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Rev. H. ROLFUS, D.D. 



Author of " Popular Instructions on Marriage" " Popular Instructions to 
Parents," " Mission Book for the Married" " Mission 
Book for the Single," etc. 



Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 

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hum ®bem. 


Censor Librorum. 



Archbishop of New York. 



' BAY 81933 

Copyright, 1898, by Benziger Brothers. 

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CA-CJ- 17 



The Grace of God 9 

Practical Application 16 

Good Works and Merit 19 

Practical Application 25 

The Holy Sacraments 29 

Practical Application 36 

Ceremonies which are Attached to the Sacra- 
ments 37 

Baptism 39 

The Baptism of Infants 45 

Preparation of Adults for the Reception of Holy 

Baptism 47 

Conditional Baptism 47 

Sponsors 48 

Baptismal Names 50 

The Baptism of Desire and of Blood . . .52 
The Ceremonies of Holy Baptism . . .54 
The Ceremonies after Baptism . . . .57 

Practical Application 59 

Confirmation 63 

Testimony of the Fathers . . . . .68 
Ceremonies of Confirmation . . . .70 
Names and Sponsors in Confirmation . . .72 

Practical Application 73 


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The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar . 75 
Types of the Blessed Sacrament 


Institution of the Blessed Sacrament 
Confirmation of the Doctrine of the Most 

Sacrament of the Altar . 
Testimony of the Fathers of the Church 
Refutation of Heretics 
Communion under One Kind 
The Festival of Corpus Christi . 
Hymn to the Blessed Sacrament 
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus . 105 
The Perpetual Adoration and Forty Hours' 

Prayer 107 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass . . .110 

On Sacrifices in General 110 

The Holy Mass Promised under the Old Dis- 
pensation 113 

Types 115 

Institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass . 116 
The Vicarious Office of the Priest . • . 119 
The Fruits of Holy Mass 122 

Holy Communion 126 

The Worship of the Early Christians . . 131 
The Secrecy Observed in the Celebration of 
Holy Mass, and the Reproaches Raised 
against the Early Christians .... 134 
The Requisites for the Celebration of Holy Mass 136 
Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels . 137 
The Ecclesiastical Vestments .... 144 

Ecclesiastical Colors 147 

The Ceremonies of Holy Mass .... 149 

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The Language in which Holy Mass is Celebrated 153 

The Ceremonial of Low Mass .... 157 
Prayers at the Foot of the Altar . . .158 

The Introit 158 

The Kyrie 159 

The Gloria in Excelsis Deo . . . .159 

The Collects 160 

The Epistle 161 

The Gospel 161 

The Credo 161 

The Offertory . . . . . . .162 

Orate Fratres 163 

The Secreta 163 

The Preface and the Sanctus .... 164 

Canon of the Mass 165 

The Consecration 166 

After the Consecration 167 

The Communion 168 

Post Communion 170 

The Sacrament of Penance 173 

Examination of Conscience .... 178 

Contrition 181 

Purpose of Amendment 189 

Confession 191 

The Form of Confession 199 

Auricular Confession 201 

The Witness of the Fathers in Support of Con- 
fession 203 

Confession in the Russian Church . . . 204 

Satisfaction 207 

St. John Chrysostom on the Manner in which 
We Ought to Do Penance . . . .212 

Absolution 213 

Instruction 216 

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Indulgences 219 

Some Remarks About the Gaining of Indul- 
gences 224 

Ecclesiastical Discipline in the Early Church . 225 
The Advantages which the Living Derive from 

Indulgences 230 

The Jubilee Indulgence 232 

Some Indulgences which May be Obtained by 
Every One without Much Difficulty . . 235 
Practical Application 238 

The Sacrament of Extreme Unction . . . 240 

Historical Evidence 247 

The Order of Administering Extreme Unction . 248 

The Sacrament of Holy Orders .... 250 
The High Dignity of the Sacerdotal Office, and 

the Respect which is Due to Priests • . 257 

The Ceremonial of Ordination .... 263 

Practical Application 266 

The Sacrament of Matrimony . . . .268 
Testimony to the Indissolubility of Marriage . 274 
Matrimony in its Character of a Sacrament . 275 
Preparation before Entering the Married State . 277 
The Impediments to Marriage .... 281 

Mixed Marriages 283 

The Duties of the Married 286 

The Ceremonies of the Sacrament of Matrimony 291 

Practical Application 292 

The Sacramentals * 294 

Practical Application 297 

Consecrations and Benedictions .... 298 
The Consecration of Individuals . . . 298 
The Consecration of Places .... 300 
The Blessing of Things 303 

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The Grace of God* 

God created man out of love, and the love of 
God accompanies him all his life long. The life of 
man may be said to be an unbroken series of proofs 
of love and gifts of grace bestowed on him by God. 
These graces are, for instance, life, which God was 
in no wise bound to give us, health, the favorable 
circumstances in which He placed us at our birth, 
the powers of our soul. Every good thing which 
man receives from God is a grace, because he can 
claim nothing from God; all is bestowed on him out 
of pure bounty. " Thou lovest all things that are, 
and hatest none of the things which Thou hast 
made." (Wisd. xi. 25.) 

All proofs of love which concern natutal 
things alone are called natural graces. Those 
graces, on the contrary, which are given to man to 
enable him to rise above nature, or, in other words, 

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are bestowed upon him by God for his eternal sal- 
vation, are supernatural graces, because they are 
given him for a supernatural end. 

Supernatural graces are either within us or with- 
out us ; and accordingly we speak of interior and 
exterior graces. The Incarnation of Our Lord, the 
preaching of God's word, the Passion and Death 
of Christ, are instances of exterior graces, 

God often confers interior supernatural graces 
upon a man in order that by means of them he 
may influence the souls of others and bring them to 
everlasting salvation. Thus the apostles had the 
gift of healing the sick, raising the dead, and of 
working other miracles for the establishment of the 
truth of Christ's teaching. St. Francis Xavier pos- 
sessed the gift of speaking in their own language to 
the heathen tribes to whom he went ; and of all the 
miraculous deeds we read of in the lives of the 
saints the greater part were wrought with the pur- 
pose of quickening the faith of others. Our Lord 
gave this command to His apostles when He was on 
earth : " Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the 
lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, 
freely give." (Matt. x. 8.) 

In consequence of these words of Our Lord the 
grace of which we speak is called grace freely given 
(gratia gratis data). The supernatural grace, on 
the other hand, which man receives for the awaken- 
ing of his conscience, his conversion, justification, 
and sanctification, is termed grace which renders 

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The Grace of God. 


a man pleasing to God {gratia gratum faciens). 
This, again, is a twofold grace ; it consists of actual 
grace and sanctifying grace. 

i. Man is possessed of various natural powers, 
with which, as stands to reason, he can only accom- 
plish what is natural. He can, for instance, com- 
prehend by the light of nature that there must of 
necessity be a God, that nothing is the work of 
chance. He is also able to apprehend that not all 
which a man does, or desires to do, is right ; he is 
able to discern some things to be good and others 
evil ; he can even perform some good actions. But 
all that is contained in divine revelation he can- 
not by his own natural powers discover, and from 
this proceeds the necessity of a revelation. Nor can 
man grasp the full extent of the good which it is 
incumbent on him to do ; he cannot persevere in it 
for any length of time ; he cannot perform it so 
that it shall be acceptable and well-pleasing to God. 
To be pleasing to God is something divine, some- 
thing supernatural ; it cannot be attained, or even 
striven after, by natural means. Of himself man 
cannot so much as desire what is good, much less 
bring it to pass. But divine grace prevents or an- 
ticipates human action ; that is to say, it precedes 
all good works, otherwise man could not even think 
a good thought. Our Lord tells us : " Without Me 
you can do nothing " (John xv. 5); u ^jiw»«tt~6an^ 
come to Me, except the Father, wfetO^ft-^rft I&fep 
draw him " (John vi. 44). And^^-Apost^ $|®Nes 

v ft 



us : " It is God who worketh in you, both to will 
and to accomplish." (Phil. ii. 13.) 

2. Preventing grace is, however, only an influ- 
ence acting upon the powers of the soul of man, 
stirring him up and rendering him capable of recog- 
nizing and desiring that which is good. If a man 
avails himself of this grace, and co-operates with it, 
it will remain with him and accompany him. If he 
co-operates with it, it will operate in him. For the 
grace which aids man to do that which is good is 
actual grace. This is the meaning of the prophet's 
words : " Thou hast wrought all our works for us." 
(Is. xxvi. 12.) 

3. Actual grace, although given to all men, is not 
given to all in equal measure, so that every man 
should receive as many and as great graces as his 
neighbor, for one does not need as much grace as 
another in order to be saved. There are circum- 
stances, positions, vocations in life which call for a 
greater amount of grace than others. Special 
graces, for instance, are required by priests, and, 
again, by married persons, on account of which Our 
Lord instituted a special sacrament for those who 
received Holy Orders and another for those who 
enter the married state. A man who is unavoidably 
exposed to severe temptations and many occasions 
of sin needs a greater amount of grace ; so, also, 
does one who has numerous and arduous duties to 
discharge — e. g., a superior or a ruler. But we know 
that each one receives as much grace as he needs, 

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The Grace of God. 

since God " will have all men to be saved, and to 
come to the knowledge of the truth " (i Tim. ii. 4); 
and: " The grace of God Our Saviour hath appeared 
to all men" (Tit. ii. n). The graces a man re- 
ceives are not apportioned to him in a capricious or 
arbitrary manner, but according to what God sees to 
be necessary for him. " To every one of us is given 
grace according to the measure of the giving of 
Christ." (Eph. iv. 7.) 

4. It is within the power of man to allow one or 
all of these motives, suggestions, influences, etc., to 
pass without heeding them or making use of them. 
He has full freedom ; the grace of God never 
coerces. He can if he chooses prove himself a 
slothful servant, who hides his talent in the earth 
(Matt. xxv. 25), or a wicked servant, who knows 
the will of his Lord, but does not act according to 
it (Luke xii. 47). According to his actions, re- 
ward or punishment will be his portion. " God 
made man from the beginning, and left him in the 
hand of his own counsel. He added His command- 
ments and precepts. If thou wilt keep the com- 
mandments, and perform acceptable fidelity for 
ever, they shall preserve thee. He hath set water 

' and fire before thee : stretch forth thy hand to * 
which thou wilt. Before man is life and death, 
good and evil ; that which he shall choose shall be 
given him." (Ecclus. xv. 14-18.) 

5. If man avails himself of the grace of God, 
if he co-operates with it faithfully and earnestly 

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according to God's law, if he avoids evil and subdues 
it within himself, and employs the means ordained 
by God to this end, he will receive from God sanc- 
tifying grace, which will not only cleanse him from 
sin, but will make him holy and just, acceptable and 
well-pleasing to God ; on this account this grace is 
called sanctifying grace. It is also termed charity, 
as, in the words of the Apostle : " The charity of 
God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy 
Ghost, who is given to us." (Rom. v. 5.) 

He who is enriched with sanctifying grace is no 
longer a sinner. He is a child of God, and conse- 
quently an heir of heaven. And these privileges 
are made his, not for any merit of his own, but 
because Christ, Our Lord, merited them for him by 
His Incarnation, His bitter Passion and Death. 
After the fall, and before the redemption of the 
world by Jesus Christ, it was not possible for any 
man to enter heaven. Had this been otherwise 
there would have been no necessity for the Son of 
God to become man, to suffer and to die. All 
are " justified freely by His grace, through the re- 
demption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. iii. 24.) 
"Christ Jesus, who is of God, is made unto us 
wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and re- 
demption." (1 Cor. i. 30.) 

6. Sanctifying grace does not justify man in such 
a manner that the merits of Christ are only neces- 
sary for us, or can be imputed to us, while the heart 
is as yet not free from sin ; on the contrary, sin is 

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The Grace of God. 

blotted out and the soul is made truly just and holy. 
Thus the Apostle says : " You are washed, you are 
justified, you are sanctified." (i Cor. vi. n.) 

7. Sanctifying grace may, nay, it must, be in- 
creased in the soul. It is not of a transient, but of 
a permanent, character. By Jesus God " hath given 
us most great and precious promises: that by these 
you may be made partakers of the divine nature." 
(2 Pet. i. 4.) 

8. The soul that is justified by sanctifying grace 
can, however, only continue in that state of justice 
by the help of God's grace. For not only is the 
good work begun from God, but through Him it is 
also accomplished. We must continue in the grace 
of God. " As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself 
unless it abide in the vine: so neither can you, un- 
less you abide in Me." (John xv. 4.) Sanctifying 
grace is lost by mortal sin; and just as the Lord 
God does not remember the transgressions of a 
sinner who is converted, so his former works of 
penance and his former justice avail the man no 
more who relapses into sin. " If the just man 
turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity 
according to all the abominations which the wicked 
man useth to work, shall he live ? All his justices 
which he had done, shall not be remembered: in 
the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, 
and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them 
he shall die." (Ezech. xviii. 24.) 

9. The Sacrament of Baptism was instituted by 

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1 6 Introduction. 

God in order that we might receive sanctifying 
grace. Yet it is possible for those who, having re- 
ceived the grace of justification, have lost it, to 
be again justified, as the Council of Trent teaches. 
" As regards those who by sin have fallen from the 
received grace of justification, they may again be 
justified when, God exciting them, through the 
Sacrament of Penance they shall have attained to 
the recovery, by the merits of Christ, of the grace 
lost; for this manner of justification is of the fallen 
the reparation which the Fathers aptly have called 
a second plank after the shipwreck of grace lost." 
(Sess. vi. 14.) " Be mindful therefore from whence 
thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first 
works." (Apoc. ii. 5.) 

Practical Application. 

1. Sanctifying grace is the most precious of all 
treasures ; it is more precious than any riches, 
however great, and all that the heart of man can 
desire is not to be compared in value to sanctify- 
ing grace. There is nothing, therefore, after which 
a man should strive so earnestly as after this grace ; 
it is the pearl spoken of in the Gospel, of which it 
is said : " The kingdom of heaven is like to a mer- 
chant seeking good pearls. Who, when he had found 
one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all 
that he had, and bought it." (Matt. xiii. 45, 46.) 

2. Since man by his own unaided efforts can 

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The Grace of God. 


neither obtain this grace nor keep it when he has 
obtained it, it follows that none can know with ab- 
solute certainty whether he is or is not justified, 
unless, indeed, it is made known to him by a special 
revelation, as was the case with Mary Magdalen, to 
whom Our Lord said : " Thy sins are forgiven thee/' 
(Luke vii. 48.) There are, however, certain signs 
whereby we may know whether we can venture to 
hope that we are pleasing in God's sight : e. g., if 
our love of God is fervent, if we dread the least sin, 
if we despise the things of this world and long 
after heavenly riches. But none of these things 
can afford us absolute certitude. 

Yet this very uncertainty is in itself a grace, since 
we are thereby preserved from false security, which 
imagines itself to have reached the goal, and conse- 
quently advances no further towards it, or perhaps 
actually recedes from it. For this reason we are 
constantly urged to press onwards, and to say with 
the Apostle : " Let us cleanse ourselves from all 
defilement . . . perfecting sanctification in the fear 
of God." (2 Cor. vii. 1.) 

3. As, however, we are certain of this, that the 
actual grace which we need will never be wanting 
to us provided only that we make use of prevent- 
ing grace, we must not lose heart in the hour of 
temptation, however violently it may assail us. 
Having put on the helmet of hope, we can say with 
steadfast confidence : " I can do all things in Him 
who strengthened me." (Phil. iv. 13.) 

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The apostles Peter and Paul furnish us with a 
beautiful example of the manner in which man is 
prevented by divine grace. Peter had denied his 
Lord, but he remained sitting with the servants. 
Even when he had done the same a second time 
he was not conscious of the heinousness of his sin, 
and kept his place among the servants. Upon his 
third denial, however, the cock crowed, and the 
Saviour, turning, looked on Peter. This look was 
the light of grace ; it pierced the soul of the 
apostle, he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 
xxii. 62.) Saul, breathing out threatenings and 
slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, was 
journeying to Damascus in order to arrest the 
Christians of that place and bring them bound to 
Jerusalem, when suddenly a light from heaven 
shone round about him and he was completely 
changed. God took from him his bodily sight, 
but divine grace enlightened him interiorly. Paul 
corresponded to grace ; for three days he fasted 
and prayed, and when God sent Ananias to him 
his heart was ready — he had become a changed 
man and received Baptism. (Acts ix. 1-18.) And 
when later on he went to Philippi a certain woman 
was there, named Lydia, a seller of purple of the 
city of Thyatira, who with other women listened to 
Paul's preaching. And the Lord opened her heart 

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Good Works and Merit, 


"to attend to those things which were said by 
Paul." (Acts xvi. 14.) She became his disciple 
and gave him a lodging in her house. The other 
women heard what was said by Paul as well as she, 
but we are not told that they were converted. Per- 
haps they did not correspond to the grace given to 
them, and did not co-operate with it, but remained 
obdurate. In like manner Gesmas, the thief who 
was crucified on the left of Our Lord, had the same 
grace offered him as Dismas had, who was on the 
right. But he did not avail himself of that grace 
and died impenitent, whereas Dismas was justified. 

Then, again, Stephen found it necessary to ad- 
dress this reproach to the Jews : " You stiff-necked 
and un circumcised in heart and ears, you always 
resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do 
you also." (Acts vii. 51.) For the Jews had 
seen the marvels wrought by Our Lord, and yet 
were not converted unto salvation. 

Good Works and Merit* 

Although we can only be saved by the help of 
God's grace, yet we must merit eternal salvation, 
and we must do this by co-operating with divine 
grace and by our good works. These are of abso- 
lute necessity, for faith alone will not save us. 
The kingdom of heaven is, besides, a reward 
which Our Lord bestows on those blessed of His 
Father for the good works that they have done. 

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God is accordingly bound to give us this reward, 
because He has promised it to us. Of this the 
Apostle Paul assures us when he says : " Now to 
him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned ac- 
cording to grace, but according to debt." (Rom. 
iv. 4.) We do, indeed, read these words in Holy 
Scripture : " When you shall have done all these 
things that are commanded you, say : We are un- 
profitable servants : we have done that which we 
ought to do." (Luke xvii. 10.) This is true 
inasmuch as it means that we are of no profit to 
God ; that we cannot increase His greatness, His 
might, His majesty. On the other hand, God has 
voluntarily made Himself our debtor by promising 
us a reward. " Be glad and rejoice, for your re- 
ward is very great in heaven." (Matt. v. 12.) In 
rewarding good works God is only crowning His 
own gifts ; He is but consummating that which of 
His mercy He began in us. 

1. In order that any work may be well-pleasing 
to God two things are requisite : the doer of the 
work must be in a state of grace, and he must have 
a good intention. Only if we are united to Christ 
by faith and charity can we accomplish anything 
godlike, and therefore acceptable to God. Were 
it possible for one who is in a state of mortal sin to 
do anything to gain heaven his sins could be re- 
deemed by good works. But good works must be 
the fruit of true sanctification of heart, the good 
fruits of a good tree. " Every good tree bringeth 

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Good Works and Merit 


forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth 
evil fruit." (Matt. vii. 17.) The effects of sancti- 
fying grace are enumerated by the Apostle under 
the designation of fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 
v. 22.) 

2. If any work is to be well-pleasing to God it 
is not enough that it be good in itself, it must also 
be performed voluntarily, the means employed 
must be lawful in themselves, and it must be done 
with a pure intention. That only is a good work 
which a man does entirely of his own free will, 
without any compulsion from within or without. 
He must have full liberty to do it or leave it 

The means which are employed in the perform- 
ance of a good work must be lawful. For in- 
stance : I must not take anything from a rich man 
to give to the poor without his permission. I must 
not tell a lie to save an innocent person from pun- 
ishment. The Catholic Church rejects the prin- 
ciple : The end justifies the means. 

Furthermore, a good work, in order to be accept- 
able to God, must be done from a good motive. 
It ought not to be done for the sake of human 
praise or human recompense, or for any human 
consideration whatsoever. "When you fast be not 
as • the hypocrites, sad ; for they disfigure their 
faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. 
Amen I say to you, they have received their re- 
ward." (Matt. vi. 16.) We ought, on the contrary, 

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to perform good works in the hope of obtaining an 
increase of sanctifying grace, and in view of heav- 
enly riches and eternal happiness, which will be 
ours in a greater or less degree proportionately to 
the measure of our merit. " Wherefore, brethren, 
labor the more, that by good works you may 
make sure your calling and election." (2 Pet. i. 


Now this purpose of honoring God and serving 
Him in all that we^do is what is meant by a pure 
intention. By this it becomes possible for the 
poorest of mankind, no less than the richest, to 
earn great merit in the sight of God, for God does 
not look upon the work alone, but also on the dis- 
positions and intentions of the doer. 

3. It is not, however, necessary to renew our in- 
tention in a special manner before each and every 
individual action ; it is, as a rule, a permanent dis- 
position of the soul. Wherefore it is sufficient if 
the Christian from time to time, especially in the 
morning before beginning the day's work, forms 
the intention that all he does and leaves undone, 
all that he bears and suffers during the day, he 
will offer to further the glory of God, and thus 
remain ever united to the will of God. " Whether 
you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all 
to the glory of God." (1 Cor. x. 31.) 

4. If the grace of God is lost through mortal sin, 
with the loss of sanctifying grace the supernatural 
merits of any good works which may have been 

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Good Works and Merit 

previously performed while in a state of grace are 
likewise lost ; for how can supernatural merits 
profit one who, on account of his unhappy spiritual 
state, cannot enter heaven? But if the sinner is 
truly converted, and is again made partaker of 
sanctifying grace by perfect contrition or by means 
of the Sacrament of Penance, then the merits of 
his former good works are recovered and reckoned 
again to him when he is converted. Through venial 
sin sanctifying grace is not actually lost, but, as St. 
Thomas of Aquinas teaches us, it is weakened in 
its operation, hindered in its growth, and thus the 
way is prepared for its final extinction in the soul. 
On the other hand, sanctifying grace may be in- 
creased by our earnest endeavors, so that of Chris- 
tians who make the salvation of their soul a matter 
of primary importance it may be said, in the words 
of the Psalmist : " They shall go from virtue to 
virtue." (Ps. lxxxiii. 8.) 

Wherefore the Apostle exhorts us that, "doing 
the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up 
in Him who is the head, even Christ." (Eph. 
iv. IS-) 

5. Although the soul which is not in a state of 
grace can accomplish nothing that is good, or 
whereby heaven can be merited, yet it would not 
be consistent with the justice of God if the good 
that a sinner does went unrewarded. Not only can 
the sinner obtain temporal and natural graces by 
his good works, but also supernatural graces, 

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particularly those which predispose for conversion. 
It was because of this that Daniel thus admonished 
King Nabuchodonosor : "Redeem thou thy sins 
with alms, and thy iniquities with works of mercy 
to the poor ; perhaps [God] will forgive thy 
offences/' (Dan. iv. 24.) 

And Jesus, the son of Sirach, says : " Water 
quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sins." 
(Ecclus. iii. 33.) 

If God spared the city of Ninive because of the 
penance and fasting of the Ninivites, can we imagine 
that He will not grant a temporal recompense to 
the good works performed by the sinner ? 

6. In Holy Scripture prayer, fasting, and alms- 
giving are particularly recommended to us. The 
archangel Raphael inculcated them upon Tobias 
when he said to him : " Prayer is good with fasting 
and alms, more than to lay up treasures of gold : for 
alms delivereth from death, and the same is that 
which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find 
mercy and life everlasting." (Tob. xii. 8, 9.) 

All good works may be classed under these three 
principal ones. Prayer is an act which has refer- 
ence to God. It includes mental as well as vocal 
prayer. The principal acts appertaining to prayer 
are hearing Mass, sermons, Christian instruction, 
the reception of the sacraments, besides all practices 
of devotion, acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, 
humility, good resolutions, etc. 

Fasting consists in keeping the body in subjec- 

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Good Works and Merit. 


tion and mortifying the desires of the flesh. To 
it belongs abstaining from the gratification of the 
senses, from dances, plays, and the like ; placing a 
restraint upon the eyes, the ears, the appetite, the 
impulses of curiosity and of anger. This is also 
fasting, but it is a spiritual fast. . 

The enemies of the Church hold works of morti- 
fication in peculiar detestation, and they wrongfully 
accuse Catholics of believing that by the mere 
holiness of their works heaven can be gained. 
But every Catholic knows that practices of mortifi- 
cation are only a means of conquering the pas- 
sions, strengthening the moral powers, purging the 
soul from what is evil, in order to be more free and 
unhampered in the practice of good. 

Holy Scripture thus admonishes us : " Christ 
therefore having suffered in the flesh, be you also 
armed with the same thought : for he that hath 
suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sins." (1 
Pet. iv. 1.) 

All works of brotherly love are included in alms- 
giving. He who warns the sinful, sets the erring 
right, visits the sick, comforts the sorrowful, may 
be said to give a spiritual alms. 

Practical Application. 

1. Make it your principal care to be always in a 
state of grace in order that you may lay up merits 
for heaven. Peter had labored all night and had 

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taken nothing. How sad it would have been for 
him had this occurred frequently. How much 
sadder would it be for you if at the close of your 
life you were compelled to say : " I have walked in 
darkness ; I have labored and have taken noth- 
ing ; my life has been utterly unprofitable to me ! " 
Such would be the condition of a soul which had 
lost sanctifying grace and died in mortal sin. We 
will fervently invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit, 
and implore Him to grant us grace to persevere and 
to be steadfast in all that is good. The words which 
Our Lord spoke to the angel (bishop) of the Church 
of Smyrna may be addressed also to us : " Be thou 
faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown 
of life." (Apoc. ii. 10.) 

2. Forasmuch as we are not able to bring to pass 
anything good without the grace of God, let us be 
specially on our guard against spiritual pride, 
which would persuade us that we have achieved 
something in our own strength, and that we may 
take credit to ourselves for the result of our exer- 
tions, our struggles, and our prayers. We will hum- 
ble ourselves before God, and say with David : 
" Not to us, O Lord, not to us ; but to Thy name 
give glory." (Ps. cxiii. 9.) 


That the prayers and good works of a sinner are 
not to be regarded as worthless is proved not only 

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Good Works and Merit. 


by the example of the Ninivites, who did penance, 
but still more by that of David, who was a model 
of penance. We read, too, of King Manasses that 
he did evil before the Lord, and practised the 
abominations of idol worship. Therefore the Lord 
brought upon him the armies of the Assyrians, and 
they carried him, bound with chains and fetters, to 
Babylon. And after that he was in distress he 
prayed to the Lord his God, and did penance ex- 
ceedingly before the God of his fathers. God 
heard his prayer, and brought him again to Jeru- 
salem ; and Manasses knew that the Lord was God, 
and he abolished the worship of the strange gods. 
(2 Paral. xxxiii.) When Peter was in prison prayer 
was offered to God for him by the faithful without 
ceasing, and God brought him forth out of prison 
under the guidance of an angel. The mortification 
Judith practised caused her to find favor in the 
sight of God. She wore haircloth upon her loins, 
and fasted all the days of her life except the Sab- 
baths, and the new moons, and the feasts of the 
house of Israel. Wherefore the Lord strengthened 
her, that she might undertake the deliverance of 
her people out of the hand of Holofernes. 
(Judith x. 6.) Job imposed penances upon him- 
self because he was conscious of having spoken 
unwisely before God. " I reprehend myself, and 
do penance in dust and ashes." (Job xlii. 6.) St. 
Paul does not merely exhort his hearers to crucify 
the flesh, that the body of sin may be destroyed 

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(Rom. vi. 6), but he is able to set himself before 
them as a pattern, saying : " I chastise my body, 
and -bring it into subjection : lest perhaps, when I 
have preached to others, I myself should become a 
castaway," (i Cor. ix. 27). 

The widow of Sarephta who in the time of 
famine was willing to give Elias her last morsel of 
bread was rewarded by God for her good deed : 
" The pot of meal wasted not, and the cruse of oil 
was not diminished." (3 Kings xvii. 16.) 

Cornelius, the heathen centurion, was a religious 
man, who " feared God with all his house," giving 
much alms to the people and always praying to 
God. To those prayers and those alms he owed it 
that God sent to him Peter, who was then lodging 
in Joppe, that he might receive him into the 
Church of God. (Acts x.) 

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TTbe ftols Sacraments* 

The Holy Spirit works where and how He wills. 
The all-merciful God pours forth His grace into 
the souls of men in whatever manner He pleases, 
either mediately or immediately. The regular 
means of grace appointed by Christ are the sacra- 
ments, by the reception of which the work of sanc- 
tification is begun, carried on, and completed in 
the soul, and grace, if it has been lost, is again 

i. By the word sacrament, taken in a general 
sense, has always been understood something ven- 
erable and mysterious, something that appertains 
to God, or an act whereby man is brought into re- 
lation with God, as, for instance, an oath. But the 
Church understands by a sacrament one of those 
actual and visible signs which Christ the Lord in- 
stituted in order to give to the faithful the com- 
forting assurance that at the moment of receiving 
these visible signs they are also made partakers of 
the invisible divine grace. A sacrament is, accord- 
ingly, the union of what is visible and what is invis- 
ible, of what is natural and supernatural, of what is 
corporal and what is spiritual. As man is constituted 

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The Holy Sacraments. 

of body and soul joined together, so in His wisdom 
and love God has likewise attached spiritual grace to 
a visible sign, so that the senses may be convinced 
of what the soul believes. St. Augustine gives 
yet another reason why the Saviour instituted visi- 
ble signs of His invisible grace. He says that God 
was pleased to employ those visible and outward 
means of imparting grace to the soul in order that 
Christians might have certain tokens whereby they 
might recognize one another, be united together, 
and easily be distinguished from heretics and other 

2. Three things, therefore, are essential to a 
sacrament : 

a. A visible sign. 

b. An invisible grace. 

c. That it should have been instituted by Jesus 
Christ Himself. 

Jesus Christ alone, who is the author and re- 
storer of all things in nature and in grace, possesses 
the power of attaching supernatural graces to out- 
ward signs. 

The things that are requisite to the valid admin- 
istration of the sacraments, e. g., water in Baptism, 
are called the matter, and the words pronounced 
by the administrator in performing the solemn act 
are called the form y of the sacrament. The visible 
signs are sensible signs or actions indicating the 
manner in which the graces conferred operate 
upon the soul. Thus, for instance, in Baptism 

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The Holy Sacraments. 


water is poured upon the head of the person who 
is baptized. Now as water cleanses the body, 
so the grace dispensed in the Sacrament of Bap- 
tism cleanses the soul. The visible signs of the 
sacraments are, however, not merely sensible and 
significant : they are also effectual signs, for they 
do not simply indicate that the soul has received 
the grace in question, as Luther and some others 
erroneously assert, but they are the means whereby 
it is imparted. 

3. Since the sacraments were instituted by Jesus 
Christ Himself, nothing that is essential can be 
changed in the matter, nor can any alteration be 
made in the form. For instance, Baptism would be 
absolutely invalid were anything else but water 
employed in its administration ; and if the water 
were poured on the head without the formula ex- 
pressly prescribed to accompany it, it would be no 
Baptism at all. Moreover, it belongs to the efficacy 
of a sacrament that the person who dispenses it 
should have the intention of doing precisely that 
which Christ ordained to be done. If this inten- 
tion is wanting the sacrament is null. Further- 
more, a sacrament can only be administered by 
one who is fully authorized to dispense it ; e. g., 
only a bishop has power to administer the Sacra- 
ment of Holy Orders ; were a priest to presume to 
officiate in this manner it would be a grievous sin 
on his part, and the ceremony would be entirely 

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The Holy Sacraments. 

4. The holy sacraments derive their efficacy from 
the merits of Jesus Christ. He by His Passion and 
death earned for us the graces which are imparted 
to the soul by the sacraments. Hence their valid- 
ity does not depend either on the worthiness of the 
individual who dispenses them or of him who 
receives them. An unworthy priest, for example 
really and truly absolves the repentant sinner, and 
the sinner who receives communion in the state 
of mortal sin, nevertheless really receives the 
sacrament. But he who administers a sacra- 
ment unworthily, not being himself in a state 
of grace, adds another mortal sin to those he 
has already committed ; and he who receives a 
sacrament unworthily receives it to his condemna- 
tion instead of to his salvation. Hence we rightly 
say that he who receives a sacrament unworthily is 
guilty of an awful sin, the sin of sacrilege ; for he 
robs God of that to which he has no right, that is 
to say, of the sacrament, which is none the less a 
supernatural and divine act even when received un- 
worthily, and when the unworthiness of the recipi- 
ent is an impediment to the outpouring of divine 

5. Christ the Lord instituted seven sacraments. j> 
neither more nor less. These are : 

(1) Baptism, (2) Confirmation, (3) the Most Hoi i 
Sacrament of the Altar, (4) Penance, (5) Extremt \ 
Unction, (6) Holy Orders, (7) Matrimony. 

The necessity for these seven sacraments will fc>e 

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The Holy Sacraments. 


made apparent if the supernatural life of the soul is 
compared with the natural life of the body. 

a. Man is born into the world. By Baptism he 
is born again in a spiritual manner and incorpo- 
rated into the body of faithful Christians. 

b. The body grows, and as it increases in size 
its powers ought to be developed in the same pro- 
portion. By Confirmation the soul, while in an 
early stage of growth, is strengthened and prepared 
to withstand the temptations of the Evil Spirit, of 
bad men, and also those temptations which proceed 
from within our corrupt nature. 

c. The body requires daily food. The soul is 
nourished by the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar. 

d. The body when injured requires to be healed, 
to have remedies applied to it. In the Sacrament 
of Penance the sacred means of cure are placed 
within our reach, and by them the sick soul is 
made whole. 

e. If the body is out of health the physician is 
called in, and the sufferer must take medicines if 
he would recover from his indisposition. The priest 

the physician of the soul, and in the Sacrament 
" Extreme Unction he dispenses strength and con- 

f. In the civil constitution there must be certain 
irsons in positions of authority, who, as God's 
presentatives, maintain order and enforce the 

aws. Even so in the Church of God there must 
•>e governors, guardians, watchmen, law-givers, 

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The Holy Sacraments. 

dispensers of graces. Those who are chosen by God 
receive in the Sacrament of Holy Orders the powers 
and the authority for the office they are to fill. 

g. In the Sacrament of Matrimony parents, 
whose duty it is to train up children for the king- 
dom of God, have grace conferred on them to ac- 
complish this task, and thus to increase the num- 
ber of the Church's worthy members. 

We find the seven sacraments typified in the 
seven pillars upon which divine wisdom raised the 
house which she built for herself (Prov. ix. i) ; as 
also in the seven lamps which the prophet Zacharias 
saw upon a golden candlestick, and the seven fun- 
nels for the lights that were upon the top thereof 
(Zach. iv. 2) ; likewise in the command to wash 
seven times in the Jordan given to Naaman the 
Syrian who by thus washing was cleansed of his 
leprosy (4 Kings v. 14). As there are seven gifts 
of the Holy Ghost, so there are seven sacraments, 
fountains of salvation, whence the Christian soul 
can draw the water of life. 

6. The sacraments of Baptism and of Penance 
impart sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural 
life of the soul. He who has not this supernatural 
life is spiritually dead. Baptism and Penance are 
therefore the means whereby those who are spiritu- 
ally dead are quickened again to the life of grace ; 
on account of this they are termed the sacraments 
of the dead. The other sacraments may only be 
received by those who possess this supernatural life 

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The Holy Sacraments. 


of the soul, who are already in a state of grace. 
They are called the sacraments of the living, and 
increase supernatural grace in the soul each time 
they are received. In addition to this each sacra- 
ment confers a grace peculiar to itself, which is 
called sacramental grace, and is distinct from sanc- 
tifying grace. It consists of a special assistance 
which the sacrament in question was instituted to 
convey. What this grace is in each sacrament re- 
spectively will be shown in the proper place. " Of 
His fulness we have all received, and grace for 
grace." (John i. 16.) 

7. Of the seven sacraments three — that is*, Bap- 
tism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders — can only 
be received once: and it would be a grave sin 
were any one to presume to be baptized or con- 
firmed over again, or to be ordained priest a second 
time. A Christian, if he had the misfortune to fall 
away from his faith, and become, let us say, a Jew 
or a Mohammedan, must, should he repent and de- 
sire to return to the bosom of the Church, do pen- 
ance for his sin, but he must not again be baptized. 
And should a priest have apostatized, when once he 
has been absolved and has again received faculties 
from the bishop he is at liberty to resume all his 
priestly functions. The three sacraments which 
we have named impress upon the soul a stamp or 
character that is indelible. This character is a 
spiritual mark, whereby it may be known that the 
soul which has received it is specially consecrated 

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The Holy Sacraments. 

and dedicated to God and to Jesus Christ, that it 
belongs to God, that it is His servant, a warrior 
pledged to His service. This character will be for 
the blessed a distinctive mark to their everlasting 
honor and glory, but to the lost it will be a mark to 
their everlasting confusion, for it will make known 
to all that they received the grace of God and re- 
jected it, and on that account are more culpable 
than the heathen, who never saw the light of faith 
or were made partakers of the grace of the sacra- 

Practical Application. 

1. The Saviour gave this command to His disci- 
ples : " Give not that which is holy to dogs: neither 
cast ye your pearls before swine." (Matt. vii. 6.) 
The holy things and pearls of which He speaks are 
nothing else than the sacraments, which we receive 
from the hands of the successors of the apostles. 
Our Lord designates those who do not value the 
pearls aright as dogs and swine. Consequently 
those who receive any of the sacraments unworthily 
are to be compared to dogs and swine. These 
severe expressions came from the lips of the boun- 
tiful Lord, who is Himself the giver of all grace. 
They ought, indeed, to make us tremble, and feel 
how all-important it is to examine one's self before 
venturing to approach the holy mysteries. 

2. The prohibition laid down by God in the 
second commandment, " Thou shalt not take the 

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The Ceremonies Attached to the Sacraments. 37 

name of God in vain," includes under the name of 
God the Deity Himself and all that proceeds from 
Him. Now the sacraments are from Him, and 
since the heavens as being God's throne, and the 
cross the instrument of the Passion of His divine 
Son, are not to be spoken of without the utmost 
reverence, so it would be no less sinful to speak of 
the holy sacraments in a depreciatory, careless, or 
irreverent manner. He who does so incurs the dis- 
pleasure of God, and exposes himself to the danger 
of being deprived of the grace of the sacraments, 
and dying in a state of reprobation. 

The Ceremonies which are attached to the 

The administration of the sacraments is accom- 
panied with ceremonies, some of which indicate 
the grace conferred by the sacrament, while others 
prepare the soul for the reception of that grace, or 
confirm it when it is received. These ceremonies 
have been instituted by the Church in the spirit of 
Jesus Christ, who on various occasions when be- 
stowing His benefits made use of certain outward 
signs. Thus we read that when little children 
were presented to Him He imposed His hands on 
them, prayed, and blessed them. (Matt. xix. 
13-15.) Before the miraculous multiplication of 
loaves He looked up to heaven and blessed the 

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The Holy Sacraments. 

loaves before He broke them. (Matt. xiv. 19.) 
When He cured the two blind men by the wayside 
He touched their eyes, although it would have 
been enough had He merely spoken the words : 
Receive your sight. (Matt. xx. 34.) And when 
He healed the deaf and dumb boy He put His fin- 
gers into his ears, touched his tongue with spittle, 
and looking up to heaven groaned, and said to 
him : Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. (Mark 
vii. 33 ) 

At the Last Supper Our Lord took the bread and 
wine into His holy and venerable hands, prayed, 
and blessed them, before distributing them to His 
disciples. And it is recorded that when taking 
leave of the apostles before His Ascension He 
blessed them, and "whilst He blessed them He 
departed from them and was carried up to heaven." 
(Luke xxiv. 51.) 

The Church attaches these ceremonies to the 
sacraments for the purpose of reminding the faith- 
ful of the virtue of the sacraments, of augmenting 
their respect for them, and setting before them the 
responsibilities they take upon themselves when 
they receive those sacred sacraments. 

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Baptism is the most indispensable of all the 
sacraments, for by it we are made Christians, and 
thus enabled to receive the other sacraments. To 
have previously been baptized is essential to the 
valid reception of any one of the other sacraments. 
Baptism is the sacrament whereby, by water and 
the invocation of the three divine Persons, man is 
cleansed from sin, sanctified by the grace of God, 
and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. 
Baptism is therefore the gate whereby we are ad- 
mitted into the Church of God and, as members 
of the Church, are incorporated into the mystical 
body of Christ, who is the Head of the Church. 

Thus upon Baptism depends our adoption as 
children of God and our eternal salvation. Hence 
Our Lord commanded His apostles : " Go ye into 
the whole world and preach the Gospel to every 
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall 
be saved." (Mark xvi. 15, 16.) 

When Peter was preaching Christ crucified to 
the assembled multitudes on the day of Pentecost, 
and the Jews, in fear and compunction, asked : 

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4 o 


"What shall we do?" he answered them: "Do 
penance, and be baptized every one of you in the 
name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your 
sins : and you shall receive the gift of the Holy 
Ghost." (Acts ii. 38.) 

Hence it is seen that Baptism is the most indis- 
pensable of the sacraments. 

1. The outward sign in Baptism is washing with 
water, accompanied at the same time with the 
words : " I baptize thee in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The 
washing with water without the words would be 
just as futile as the utterance of the words without 
the application of the water. The water used 
must be real, natural water. No artificial water, 
such as, for example, rose-water distilled from rose- 
leaves, eau de Cologne, or any other fluid, such as 
wine, for instance, must on any account be em- 
ployed. On Holy Saturday and on the eve of 
Pentecost the Church prepares water by a special 
ceremonial to be used by priests in administering 
baptism. In the case of a layman baptizing, holy 
water should be employed, if there be any at hand. 
• The water is poured upon the head of the child 
in the form of a cross, and in such a manner as 
that it shall run off. In exceptional cases, e. g., 
when all does not go well at the time of birth, and 
the water cannot be poured upon the head, it may 
be poured on some other part of the body. 

No other formula but the one dictated by Our 

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** 3c&m came from Hajaretb anfe was baptijeb b\> 3obn in tbc 
Soroan."— flDarft i. 9. 


"Ulnless a man be born again of water ano tbe 1>oIv Obost, be 
cannot enter into tbe feinaoom of <5oo."— 3obn iti. 5. 


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Reflection. — Before receiving the Sacrament of 
Baptism we were, through original sin, children of 
wrath and slaves of Satan. By Baptism we became 
children of God, members of His Church and heirs of 
heaven. The recipient of Baptism is previously required 
to renounce Satan, whose slave he is by original sin, 
and his works and his pomps, that is, sin and all sinful 
pleasures ; to profess his faith in the Blessed Trinity, 
in the incarnation and redemption of the Son of God, 
in the holy Catholic Church and in other articles of 
the creed. By Baptism our soul is cleansed from all 
sin and endowed with sanctifying grace, which makes 
it holy and elevates it to the supernatural order and 
enables it to merit heaven ; and, moreover, the theo- 
logical virtues of faith, hope and charity are infused into 
our soul. 

Practice. — Let us often reflect with gratitude on 
the infinite mercy of God in calling us to the true 
Church, in making us His children, friends and heirs by 
Baptism, without any merit or claim on our part. Let 
us daily thank God on our knees for this most precious 
gift of the true faith, and let us strive by a good life 
never more to become the slaves of Satan or to do his 

Prayer. — O my God, it was without any merit on 
my part that Thou didst call me by Baptism to the true 
faith and made me Thy child and heir, and I have so 
often been ungrateful by my sins for this priceless grace. 
Forgive me through the merits of Jesus Christ. I 
now again sincerely renounce Satan and all his works 
and pomps ; help me henceforth to keep these vows 
faithfully. O Mary, obtain this grace for me. Amen. 

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Lord Himself may be employed at Baptism. A 
form of words such as : I baptize thee in the name 
of Jesus ; or, I baptize thee in the name of the 
Most Holy Trinity, would not be of the slightest 
avail. Nor is it allowable for any one but the per- 
son who pours the water to repeat the words, and 
they must be repeated at the same time that the 
water is poured on the head. 

Since Baptism is necessary to salvation, this sac- 
rament — and this one only — may be administered 
by the laity. Yet the proper person to officiate is 
the priest of the parish, or any other priest whom 
he empowers to take his place. Only in an emer- 
gency, when there is not time to summon a priest, 
a layman, and in the absence of a man a woman, 
may administer Baptism. Preference in this case 
ought to be given to one who has been confirmed 
rather than to one who has not yet been confirmed. 
Not the faithful only, but unbelievers, Jews, and 
heathens also, can baptize if they have the will and 
intention to do what the Catholic Church ordains 
to be done. If, for example, a Jewish mother sees 
her child in danger of death, and the thought 
enters her mind : Supposing the Christians were 
right, and it were really true that no unbaptized 
person could go to heaven, for lack of Baptism 
my child would lose heaven ! And if this mother 
were then to say to herself : I must make sure of 
this eternal happiness for my child ; and if she 
were to take water and baptize the child with the 

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full purpose of doing what the Church ordains 
to be done, that Baptism would certainly be 

2. The change wrought in the soul by Baptism is 
so complete that the state it produces can be com- 
pared to nothing but spiritual birth. After Bap- 
tism the soul is no longer what it was before. 
Original sin and all actual sin are remitted, and the 
individual is made pure in God's sight. But the 
soul of the baptized is not only pure, but also holy, 
and consequently it is an object of the divine com- 
placency, for the Holy Spirit has made it His 
dwelling-place, and enriched it with divine gifts. 
It bears the indelible mark of a member of Christ's 
body, and is qualified to receive all the other 
means of grace provided by the Church for her 
children. All eternal and temporal penalties are 
remitted ; man is born again for God. " Unless a 
man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost 
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 
iii. 5.) " Buried with [Christ] in Baptism, in whom 
also you are risen again by the faith of the opera- 
tion of God, who hath raised Him up from the 
dead." (Col. ii. 12.) 

3. Although the soul is completely cleansed from 
original sin by Baptism, yet man is not thereby at 
once restored to the state of innocence in which 
Adam was before the fall. This state of perfection 
is only attained after death ; during our existence 
here below our frail body is not freed from evil 

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concupiscence. Nor is it freed from the tempta- 
tions and trials of life, from sickness and death ; 
for the Christian must resemble his divine Master. 
Christ Our Lord lived on earth, He endured hard- 
ships, He suffered, and He died. But these temp- 
tations and trials ought to be for us a rich seed- 
time, occasions for the practice of virtue, if we 
persistently struggle against our passions, bear 
patiently the disagreeable trials of life, and by the 
help of God bring all the perverse affections of the 
heart under the dominion of our reason. Thus God, 
when He delivered the Israelites out of the hand 
of their enemies and conducted them to the prom- 
ised land, allowed some tribes still to remain, who 
incessantly provoked the Israelites to battle, and in 
this way afforded them an opportunity for the dis- 
play of their courage. In like manner the elect of 
God fight the good fight, and thereby obtain the 
crown of justice — a crown which is all the more 
glorious according as the victories of which it is the 
prize are glorious. 

4. In the Old Testament a type of the Sacrament 
of Baptism is found in the wondrous fountain which 
the prophet Zacharias beheld in a vision : " In 
that day there shall be a fountain open to the 
house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusa- 
lem." (Zach. xiii. 1.) 

The prophet Ezechiel, again, speaking in the 
name of the Lord, makes the following announce- 
ment : " I will pour upon you clean water, and you 

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shall be cleansed from all your filthiness." (Ezech. 
xxxvi. 25.) The Baptism of John also was only 
typical, as he himself stated : " I indeed baptize you 
in water unto penance : but He that shall come after 
me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy 
to bear ; He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost 
and in fire." (Matt. iii. 11.) 

5. With respect to the institution of Baptism two 
distinct moments of time must be observed : the 
moment when the Saviour instituted Baptism, and 
the moment when He issued the command that 
every one should be baptized. This sacrament was 
instituted when Our Lord Himself was baptized by 
John, when the Most Holy Trinity testified to its 
divine origin and the water received from Christ its 
sanctifying virtue. As St. Augustine says : " Our 
Lord was baptized, not because He stood in need 
of purification, but in order that, purifying the 
water by its contact with His sacred body, He 
might communicate to it the power to purge away 
sin." The precept to baptize was given when Our 
Lord issued the command : " Going therefore, 
teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of 
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 
Since that time it is obligatory upon all men, if they 
desire eternal salvation, to be baptized. It must, 
however, be borne in mind that, although this sac- 
rament was ordained before Christ suffered, yet 
from His Passion and death it derives all its virtue 
and efficacy, equally with the other sacraments. 

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The Baptism of Infants. 


The Baptism of Infants* 

When Christ the Lord said to Nicodemus : " Un- 
less a man be born again of water and the Holy 
Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God " 
(John iii. 5), He made not a single exception to 
the rule He then laid down. And since we are 
told that nothing that is defiled can enter into the 
heavenly Jerusalem (Apoc. xxi. 27), it follows that 
no unbaptized child can enter into the kingdom of 
heaven, because it is stained with the pollution of 
original sin. 

Hence we may draw the undeniable conclusion 
that infants ought to be baptized, as was cus- 
tomary in apostolic times, for we know that the 
apostles baptized infants as well as adults. In the 
Acts of the Apostles it is recorded that at Philippi 
St. Paul baptized Lydia, the seller of purple, with 
all her household, that is, with all her whole family. 
(Acts xvi. 15.) 

Nowhere in the writers of the first centuries of 
Christianity do we find the opinion expressed that 
young children cannot receive the grace of Bap- 
tism because they cannot believe what they do not 
yet know. To quote the beautiful words of St. 
Augustine : " Our mother the Church gives to the 
new-born infant the feet of others that they may 
come to it, the heart of others that they may 

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4 6 


believe, the tongue of others that they may make 

The Church has always urged upon Christians 
the duty of bringing their children as soon as pos- 
sible to the font of regeneration, and St. Cyprian 
speaks in reprobation of a bishop who thought that 
the Baptism of infants ought to be deferred until 
the eighth day after birth, because circumcision 
was appointed to take place on that day. Nor 
did Cyprian condemn this opinion on his own 
authority alone ; he previously consulted his breth- 
ren in the episcopate, and then definitely declared 
that Baptism was not to be postponed until eight 
days had elapsed, but was to be administered im- 
mediately after the birth of an infant. 

The Roman Catechism prescribes thus : 

Let the faithful be admonished to carry their 
children to the church, as soon as this can be done 
safely, and have them baptized with the proper cere- 
monies. For as there exists no other way whereby 
infants can be saved except by Baptism, it stands to 
reason that those do a grievous wrong who deprive 
them longer than necessity demands of the grace of 
this sacrament ; more especially, as, on account of 
their tender age, the dangers that encompass them 
in life are almost innumerable. 

Christian parents should accordingly remember 
that the following words spoken by Our Lord apply 
to new-born infants as well as to older children: 
M Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and for- 

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Conditional Baptism. 


bid them not : for of such is the kingdom of God." 
(Mark x. 14.) 

The Preparation of Adults for the Reception of 
Holy Baptism* 

When the person to be baptized is not an infant, 
but an adult, who has the firm desire and purpose 
to be baptized, the following things are requisite : 

The candidate for Baptism must believe in the 
true God and in Jesus Christ, His Son ; he must 
hope in God, and trust to obtain forgiveness of his 
sins and everlasting felicity. He must have at least 
some incipient love of God, and contrition for the 
sins he has committed. He must renounce Satan 
and all his works, and have a steadfast intention to 
cleave to Christ. He must also be firmly resolved 
to keep the commandments of God, and to submit 
to all the ordinances of the Church. It is not in- 
dispensable, even when the person to be baptized 
is grown up, that he should be thoroughly instructed 
on all points, if only he has the will to believe all 
that the Catholic Church proposes to him to be 

Conditional Baptism* 

Cases occur — and, indeed, not unfrequently — in 
which it is impossible to know for certain whether 
Baptism has been administered, and administered 

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4 8 


validly ; as, for instance, if some child is found 
which has bejen abandoned by its mother ; for if a 
mother abandons her child, either from heartless- 
ness or on account of poverty, it may safely be 
assumed that she has not troubled herself about 
the salvation of its soul. Or, again, if an infant 
has been privately baptized when in danger of 
death a doubt may arise whether the person who 
administered Baptism had the right intention or 
performed the ceremony aright. If this doubt is 
really well grounded the child ought to be baptized 
conditionally, with the addition of these words : 
If thou art not already baptized, I baptize thee, 
etc. If the person who baptizes is a Christian, 
well instructed in his religion — a Catholic nurse, for 
example — the child must not be baptized again, even 
conditionally. Children baptized by Protestant 
ministers have, as a rule, to be baptized again con- 
ditionally on account of the carelessness with which 
Baptism is sometimes administered by them, and 
the want of a right intention, which may make their 
Baptism invalid. 


The custom of providing those who are brought 
to the baptismal font with godparents, who to a 
certain extent are their spiritual teachers and guides, 
dates back from the time of the apostles. To this 
St. Dionysius bears witness when he says : " The 

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idea suggested itself to the mind of our divinely 
appointed guides [the apostles] to receive children 
in so solemn a manner that the natural parents 
should be required to deliver over their child to 
some person conversant with divine things, as to a 
tutor, under whose authority, like that of a father 
or guardian, the child shall remain for the whole of 
his life." These godparents act in a measure as 
sureties to the Church that the person receiving 
Baptism shall be instructed in the Catholic religion, 
in case the parents should be unable to perform 
this duty or should be culpably negligent of it. 
Such being the obligation which rests upon god- 
parents, it follows that only those can be chosen 
for the office who are both able and willing to in- 
struct their godchildren in the Catholic faith and 
confirm them in it. Non-Catholics cannot, there- 
fore, be godparents ; at most they can be witnesses 
of the Baptism, provided there is some one else 
at hand who will undertake the duties of a 
Catholic godfather. It is also incumbent on god- 
parents to guide their godchildren to all that is 
right in order that they may really fulfil the 
promises which have been made for them. St. 
Dionysius quotes the solemn promise which in his 
time godparents were required to make. It is as 
follows : " I promise that as soon as this child is 
capable of understanding the sacred truths of 
religion I will endeavor by untiring exhortations 
to lead him wholly to renounce all that is contrary 

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to godliness, and to profess and practise those 
things which he has promised to believe and to 
do." The promise required of sponsors in the 
present day at Baptism is couched in much the 
same terms. 

As a rule only one person, of either sex, stands 
sponsor for a child ; at most only one man and one 

Baptism creates a spiritual relationship between 
the baptizer and the baptized, also between the 
baptizer and the parents of the baptized on the one 
hand, and between godparent and godchild, also be- 
tween the sponsors and the natural parents, on the 
other. Without a papal dispensation no marriage 
can be lawfully concluded between any of them. 

It stands to reason that persons cannot act as 
sponsors in regard to their own children, because 
the godparents are substitutes for them. Grand- 
parents are, however, not excluded from the office. 

No one is eligible as a sponsor who has not been 
confirmed. Girls must be at least twelve, and boys 
fourteen, years old ; only persons who are well in- 
structed in the faith and of irreproachable morals 
ought to be chosen as godparents. Members of 
Religious Orders, again, are excluded, as they can- 
not take upon themselves parental duties. 

Baptismal Names* 

As a matter of course, a name is given to children 
upon their birth into the world, and in the Christian 

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Baptismal Names. 

Church they receive this name at their Baptism. 
Originally it was usual for adults to retain the name 
they already bore, but in the first centuries of the 
Church the custom was introduced of taking an- 
other name at the baptismal font, because the 
Christian is then born again to a new life. The 
names given generally expressed some excellent 
quality or virtue, or were taken from some memo- 
rable event, e. g., Leo (lion), Victor (conqueror), 
Gregory (watchful), Benedict (blessed), Fidelis 
(faithful), Theodore (the gift of God), Stephen 
(crowned), Sophia (wisdom), Catharine (pure), 
Clara (bright), Margaret (pearl), Pulchra (beauti- 
ful), etc. But ere long the Church counselled the 
faithful to call their children by the name of some 
holy martyr, that they might be ever mindful of 
the virtues that distinguished their patron. More- 
over, we find St. Dionysius of Alexandria and St. 
Chrysostom exhorting parents to desist from giving 
pagan names to their children. Names taken from 
the Old and New Testament and those of the 
angels were generally given at Baptism. Ridiculous 
names, the appellations of heathen deities or of 
very wicked persons, are prohibited by the Roman 
ritual. The most suitable names to be given to 
children are the names of saints and eminent Chris- 
tians, especially those whose circumstances were 
somewhat similar to those in which the child will 
be placed, or who may be proposed as models for 
the imitation of all. It is advisable to acquaint 

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the child with the history of its patron, and to 
teach it fervently to invoke his intercession, in order 
to animate and encourage it in the pursuit of what 
is good by the thought of his example and prayers. 
The Roman martyrology contains a long list of the 
names of God's saints, and it would be well to 
make choice of those rather than of any others. 

The Baptism of Desire and of Blood* 

God, who in His mercy gave to man an external 
sign to which He attached spiritual regeneration, 
does not, however, when the reception of the out- 
ward form is impossible, withhold the operation of 
His divine grace if the necessary spiritual prepara- 
tion and the desire for the grace are not wanting. 
He who is animated by a pure love of God, united 
to perfect contrition fcr the sins he has committed, 
who is firmly resolved to solicit Baptism on the first 
available occasion, is capable of receiving divine 
grace and worthy of it. Sanctifying grace is, in 
fact, actually bestowed on such a one. This long- 
ing for holy Baptism is called the Baptism of Desire. 

" He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father ; 
and I will love him. If any one love Me, he will 
keep My word, and My Father will love him, and 
we will come to him, and make our abode with 
him." (John xiv. 21, 23.) 

The Baptism of Desire purges away original sin 
and actual sin ; it also remits the eternal, but not the 

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The Baptism of Desire and of Blood. 53 

temporal penalty of sin ; nor does it qualify for the 
reception of the other sacraments, because it is 
only through Baptism that we are made members 
of Christ and incorporated into the body of the 

There is also another substitute for Baptism, and 
that is martyrdom for the sake of Christ, which is 
called the Baptism of Blood. Those are martyrs 
who, if called upon to abjure the true faith or to 
practise idolatrous ceremonies, prefer to suffer 
death, or torture worse than death, rather than 
yield to such a demand. 

If an adult as yet unbaptized were to volun- 
tarily surrender his life out of love to Christ and in 
order to confess Christ, he would receive the Bap- 
tism of Blood, and at the same time he would, to- 
gether with sanctifying grace, obtain remission of 
sin, as well as the cancelling of the punishment, 
both eternal and temporal, due to sin. Even in- 
fants can receive this Baptism of Blood : witness 
the feast of the Holy Innocents which the Church 
celebrates. It is evident, moreover, that if young 
children, who cannot as yet have any explicit de- 
sire for the kingdom of heaven, are capable of re- 
ceiving Baptism by water they are also capable of 
enjoying the fruits of the Baptism of Blood. 

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The Ceremonies of Holy Baptism* 

As has already been said, the Church makes use 
of further ceremonies in the administration of the 
holy sacraments, which have for their object to 
destroy the influence of the Evil One, to confirm 
the work of grace, and to indicate the importance 
and solemnity of the act itself. These ceremonies 
precede, accompany, and follow Baptism. 

i. The ceremonies before Baptism. 

The godparents carry the child to the entrance 
of the church, but not as yet into the body of the 
building, since the child is not yet a member of 
the Church, and must first express the wish to be 

The priest now advances to meet the child, and 
after hearing from the godparents the name given 
to him he thus interrogates him : 

" What dost thou ask of the Church of God ?" 

The godparents answer in the name of the 
child : 

" Faith." 

The priest continues : 

"What does faith obtain for thee?" 

Again the godparents reply : 

" Life everlasting." 

The priest then says : 

" If thou wilt enter into life, keep the command- 

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The Ceremonies of Holy Baptism. 5$ 

ments. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy 
mind ; and thy neighbor as thyself." 

He then breathes three times upon the face of 
the child in the form of a cross, saying : " Depart 
from him, thou unclean spirit, and give place to 
the Holy Ghost." As the Lord God in paradise 
breathed into Adam a living soul, so into the in- 
fant who is baptized a new soul is to be breathed, 
which derives its life from the cross of Christ. At 
the same time a rule of conduct is given him for 
his whole life ; he is admonished to keep the one 
great commandment which contains the whole law. 
But first the child must be delivered out of the 
power of the Evil One, under whose dominion he 
has fallen through original sin. 

The child is now admitted into the number of 
those who are to receive Baptism, and is prepared 
for it by the following ceremonies : 

2. The priest makes the sign of the cross upon 
the forehead and breast of the infant. 

3. He lays his hand upon his head. 

4. He puts into his mouth a grain of salt, a sym- 
bol of the gift of heavenly wisdom of which he is 
to be the recipient. 

5. He again exorcises him, making meanwhile the 
sign of the cross over him three times, and once 
upon the forehead. 

6. He then lays the end of his stole upon the 
child and admits him into the Church, saying: 

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" Enter into the temple of God, that thou mayest 
have part with Christ unto life everlasting." 

The godparents now enter the church with the 

7. Having reached the font, they recite, for 
themselves and for the child, the Apostles' Creed, 
and the Lord's Prayer. This they do to show 
themselves to be orthodox Christians, who will 
bring up in the true faith the infant whom they 
have brought to be baptized. 

8. The priest next exorcises the child once 
more, signing him three times with the sign of the 
holy cross. Then wetting his finger with spittle 
he touches with it the ears and nostrils of the 
child, saying : Ephpheta, that is, Be thou opened 
to the savor of sweetness. " But do thou fly hence, 
O accursed spirit, for the judgments of God will 
overtake thee." 

9. The benediction of the Church having now 
been given, the evil enemy being banished, and the 
orthodoxy of the godparents established, it is nec- 
essary that the person who is to be baptized should 
declare his determination to break with everything 
that is contrary to the kingdom of God. The 
priest, who has hitherto been wearing a purple 
stole, the sign of penance, exchanges it for a 
white one, and puts these questions to the god- 
parents : 

" Dost thou renounce Satan ? And all his works ? 
And all his pomps ? " 

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The Ceremonies after Baptism. 57 

To each question they reply : " I do renounce 

10. The priest then anoints the child with the 
holy oil upon the breast and between the shoulders 
in order that he may be strengthened to fight as a 
valiant warrior of Jesus Christ against the evil that 
he has just renounced. Thus he is also to take upon 
himself the yoke of Christ, and follow Him, whose 
disciple he desires to become. 

11. The priest next asks the child expressly if he 
believes all the articles of the Apostles' Creed, and 
the godparents reply to each question severally 
with the words : " I do believe." After making 
sure, by a definite question, that the child has not 
already received private Baptism, he proceeds to 
administer the sacrament in the manner described 

The Ceremonies after Baptism* 

1. After Baptism the priest anoints the child on 
the top of the head, not with ordinary oil, but with 
oil mixed with balm, to which is given the name of 
chrism. This oil is consecrated for the purpose, 
like the other oil with which the breast and shoul- 
ders are anointed, by the bishop on Holy Thursday. 
Jesus Our Lord, as our supreme King, Priest, and 
Prophet, is also the Christ, that is, the Anointed ; 
and forasmuch as the baptized person is incorpo 
rated into Christ, he is anointed to show that he 

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now belongs to the same royal and sacerdotal 

2. A white garment is laid or put on the child. 
This is significant of the marriage garment, the 
robe of innocence, which he is to preserve without 
stain, that he may appear in it before the judgment- 
seat of God. 

3. The priest also gives a lighted taper to the 
godparents. It is a symbol of a living faith, the 
light which the Christian should make to shine be- 
fore men. It is intended to remind the child that 
he, like the wise virgins in the Gospel, must watch, 
so that when he is called to the nuptials he may be 
ready and may go forth to meet the Lord rich in 
good works. * 

In many Catholic families it is customary to 
keep the baptismal taper and light it again on the 
occasion of the child's first communion, when he 
renews with his own lips the vows his godparents 
made for him in his infancy. The taper is then 
laid by again, to be brought out anew and rekin- 
dled at the hour of death as a token of the per- 
petual light which will soon shine upon him who 
ends his earthly career in the peace of God. 

After the ceremonial appointed by the Church 
is ended the priest dismisses the newly baptized 
with the blessing : " Go in peace, and the Lord be 
with thee." 

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The Ceremonies after Baptism. 59 

Practical Application. 

1. Seeing, then, that by the mercy of God we 
have received such great graces, we ought to show 
ourselves profoundly grateful for them. The anni- 
versary of our Baptism should be regarded as a 
festival, to be solemnly kept by holy communion, 
almsgiving, prayer, and the renewal of our baptis- 
mal vows. We ought besides frequently to renew 
the promises made at our Baptism ; this may be 
done when assisting at divine worship on Sundays. 

2. In heathen lands millions of infants die with- 
out Baptism. Almost as soon as they are born 
into the world, abandoned to their fate by unnat- 
ural parents, their brief term of life is ended, and 
with their earthly existence they lose all chance of 
eternal life. In Christian countries, too, thousands 
of unhappy children are forsaken or sadly neg- 
lected by their parents. By contributing to an 
institution where such children are received — an 
orphanage or refuge — by supporting the work of the 
Holy Childhood, or by paying for the education of 
some poor child, we may make a suitable return to 
God for the great graces He has vouchsafed to 
bestow on us. 

3. But should any one have the misfortune to 
lose the grace of Baptism, to him may be addressed 
the words Our Lord spoke : " Be mindful, therefore, 
from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and 
do the first works; or else I come to thee, and 

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will move thy candlestick out of its place, except 
thou do penance." (Apoc. ii. 5.) 


Candace, the Queen of the Ethiopians, had in 
her service a God-fearing Jew, who had charge over 
all her treasures. We read that on one occasion 
this man had been to Jerusalem to acquit himself 
of his religious duties, and on his way home, sit- 
ting in his chariot, he occupied himself in reading 
the prophet Isaias. God, desirous to reward the 
• good will of this pious man, sent an angel to Philip, 
one of the seven deacons, bidding him go to the 
road which led from Jerusalem to Gaza, and by 
which the queen's chamberlain was returning. 
When he came in sight " the Spirit said to Philip : 
Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip, 
running thither, heard him reading the prophet 
Isaias, and he said : Thinkest thou that thou under- 
standest what thou readest ? Who said : And how 
can I, unless some man show me ? And he de- 
sired Philip that he would come up and sit with 
him." Philip complied with his request, and ex- 
plained to him who it was of whom the prophet 
foretold that He would be led " as a sheep to the 
slaughter, and like a lamb without voice before His 
shearer, so He openeth not His mouth." Thus he 
declared to him the joyful tidings of Christ. " And 
as they went on their way," we are told, " they came 

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The Ceremonies After Baptism. 61 

to a certain water : and the eunuch said : See, 
here is water, what doth hinder me from being bap- 
tized ? And Philip said : If thou believest 
with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answer- 
ing, said : I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son 
of God. And he commanded the chariot to 
stand still, and they went down into the water, 
both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized 
him. And when they were come up out of the 
water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip, and 
the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his 
way rejoicing." (Acts viii. 26-39.) An ancient 
Ethiopian chronicle records that this chamberlain 
propagated the Christian faith and merited to shed 
his blood for the truth of Christ. 

The Baptism of Desire. 

The Emperor Valentinian II. had reached the age 
of twenty years without having been baptized. He 
had, however, an earnest desire for Baptism. Ac- 
cordingly he sent for St. Ambrose, that he might 
administer it to him. Before the bishop arrived at 
the palace the emperor was assassinated by his 
generals. Many of the Christians were much 
grieved on this account, because he had died un- 
baptized, but St. Ambrose, in his funeral oration, 
spoke to them these comforting words : " Know 
that already for some time he desired to receive 
Baptism, and had sent for me for the purpose of 

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administering it to him. Do you imagine that he 
did not obtain the grace he so ardently coveted ? 
Most assuredly he did, for the very reason that 
he desired it so fervently. Just as martyrs, if un- 
baptized, are made clean through the shedding of 
their blood, so his love and his desire effected his 

The Baptism of Blood. 

Before St. Emerentiana was baptized, while she 
was still among the number of the catechumens 
who were being prepared for Baptism, she was one 
day praying at the grave of St. Agnes, when some 
heathen peasants came up and began to taunt her 
with praying at the grave of a criminal — so they 
termed St. Agnes — and believing in the mythical 
God of the Christians. On Emerentiana rebuking 
them for their blasphemy and their calumnies, they 
grew angry and killed her on the spot. Thus this 
pious virgin obtained eternal salvation through 
Baptism in her own blood. 

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The grace received in Baptism needs to be con- 
firmed and perfected, for the spiritual life must 
grow and increase, just as the human body must 
grow, and its powers be developed. For this Christ 
instituted a special sacrament, the Sacrament of 
Confirmation, that is, of strengthening or estab- 
lishing. It is the sacrament whereby the faithful 
who have already been baptized receive the Holy 
Ghost and are established in the Christian faith by 
the imposition of the hands of the bishop, by the 
anointing with chrism, and by the words which are 
said over them. 

1. The visible sign to which the grace received 
in Confirmation is attached is the imposition of the 
bishop's hands and the anointing of the forehead 
with chrism in the form of a cross, the bishop 
meanwhile saying : " I sign thee with the sign 
of the cross, and I confirm thee with the 
chrism of salvation. In the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 

2. The Sacrament of Confirmation, like the 
other sacraments of the living, has the effect of 


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6 4 


increasing sanctifying grace. The peculiar or sacra- 
mental grace it confers consists in this, that it im- 
parts to those who have been baptized the inward, 
indelible mark of perfect Christians, or soldiers of 
Christ, thereby giving them strength to confess and 
practise their Christian faith and to withstand the 
enemies of their salvation, the world, the flesh, and 
the devil. 

Now in what does the difference between the 
Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of 
Baptism consist ? Not only are the signs different, 
but the graces imparted and the effects produced 
are different. Through Baptism we are born again 
to a new life ; in Confirmation we receive courage 
and power to walk conformably to this new life. 
By Confirmation our spiritual man is made perfect. 
We are thus provided anew with all the weapons 
which a soldier of Christ needs to enable him to 
stand steadfast amid temptations and persecutions, 
and boldly to confess the faith before all the 
world. " For with the heart we believe unto jus- 
tice : but with the mouth confession is made unto 
salvation." (Rom. x. 10.) This strengthening we 
receive in Confirmation together with the seven 
gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

" Now He that confirmeth us with you in Christ, 
and that hath anointed us, is God, who also hath 
sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our 
hearts." (2 Cor. i. 21, 22.) 

3. In Confirmation, then, we perceive the two 

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things that appertain to a sacrament : the outward, 
visible sign, and the inward, invisible grace. That 
the Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted by 
Christ is proved by these facts : 

a. That it was administered by the apostles. 

b. That when administered by them it was accom- * 
panied by a supernatural effect, which Holy Scrip- 
ture expressly designates as the receiving of the 
Holy Ghost. 

c> That the Church has always taught that Con- 
firmation is a sacrament. 

It is a matter of little importance to us to know 
when the Sacrament of Confirmation was instituted 
by Christ. Had it not been ordained by Him the 
apostles would not have possessed the power of 
communicating the Holy Spirit by the imposition 
of hands. 

The Acts of the Apostles relates that on the 
occasion of the persecution by Saul of the Chris- 
tians in Jerusalem they were dispersed throughout 
the countries of Judea and Samaria, only the apos- 
tles remaining in Jerusalem. The deacon Philip 
went to the city of Samaria to preach Christ. 
When the inhabitants saw the wonders and signs 
that he did they believed and were baptized, both 
men and women, in the name of Jesus Christ. 
After this, we read, " when the apostles who were 
in Jerusalem had heard that Samaria had received 
the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and 
John : who, when they were come, prayed for them, 

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that they might receive the Holy Ghost : For He 
was not as yet come upon any of them ; but they 
were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 
Then they laid their hands upon them, and they 
received the Holy Ghost." (Acts viii. 14-17.) 

Furthermore, we read in the same book that, 
Paul having come to Ephesus, he found certain 
disciples there who had only received the Baptism 
of John. Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus, 
and " when Paul had imposed his hands on them 
the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake 
with tongues and prophesied." (Acts xix. 1-6.) . 

It is obvious from both these passages that Con- 
firmation as administered by the apostles was a 
separate act from Baptism, and that it was accom- 
panied by the imparting of divine grace. 

Such has been the teaching and the practice of 
the Church at all times. In the early Church it is 
true only adults, as a rule, were baptized, and for the 
most part by the bishop, who confirmed them imme- 
diately after. But if it was not by a bishop that 
Baptism was administered, it was necessary, as we 
gather from the history in the Acts, that an apostle 
or bishop should in a certain sense complete the 
ceremony of Baptism by the laying on of hands. 

4. The bishop is the ordinary minister of the 
Sacrament of Confirmation. It belongs to the 
office of a priest to make men Christians by Bap- 
tism, but to the bishop it appertains to make them 
perfect Christians, The apostles journeyed to Sa- 

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maria in order to lay their hands on those who had 
been baptized, because Philip was not empowered 
to do this, and because this laying on of hands is 
not merely a symbolical ceremony, but a true sac- 
rament. In exceptional cases, in countries where 
there is no bishop and which are difficult of access 
for a bishop, the Holy See can empower a priest to 
administer Confirmation ; but he must anoint with 
no other oils than those which are consecrated by 
the bishop for the purpose. These powers are not 
unfrequently granted by the Apostolic See to mis- 
sioners who are sent to heathen lands. 

5. Although the Sacrament of Confirmation is 
not indispensably necessary to salvation, yet if any 
one who might receive it should refuse to do so it 
would be a grievous sin on his part, since it would 
imply disrespect to grace. Yet it is quite justifiable, 
even when a bishop baptizes a child or is present 
at his Baptism, to postpone Confirmation until the 
child reaches the age of reason; for it is just at 
that age that he begins to be exposed to dangers 
and temptations, which the Sacrament of Confirma- 
tion is intended to enable him to overcome. But 
when adults are baptized it is well that they should 
be confirmed immediately afterwards, or at any rate 
as soon after as circumstances permit. 

In order to receive the Sacrament of Confirma- 
tion in worthy dispositions the candidate must 
be spiritually alive ; that is to say, he must be 
in a state of grace, for which reason he ought 

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previously to purge his soul from sin in the Sac- 
rament of Penance. He must also be well instructed 
in the faith, and must approach the sacrament in a 
reverent and devout spirit. The graces received in 
Confirmation are greater or less according as the 
previous preparation has been more or less careful. 

There is no rule as to age in regard to Confirma- 
tion, nor is any time specified for its administration. 
It can be administered at all times ; in cities where 
there is an episcopal residence, Pentecost, or one of 
the days in the octave, is usually chosen, in remem- 
brance of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the 
apostles of the Lord. 

Formerly this sacrament was received fasting ; 
but nowadays the Church dispenses from the ob- 
servance of this rule, although she commends the 

Testimony of the Fathers* 

Tertullian, one of the earliest ecclesiastical 
writers (240 a.d.), in his treatise on the resurrec- 
tion of the body, says that the body is the bearer 
of salvation to us, the means whereby the work of 
redemption is applied to us, which could only be 
accomplished in the body. He then adds : 

" The body is washed that the soul may be 
cleansed ; the body is anointed that the soul may 
be sanctified ; the body is signed with the sign of 
the cross that the soul may be fortified. The body 

Pigitized by 

Testimony of the Fathers. 

6 9 

is overshadowed by the imposition of hands in 
order that the soul may be enlightened by the 
Holy Ghost. The body receives the body and 
blood of Christ in order that the soul may thereby 
be nourished." 

Here Tertullian speaks of three distinct transac- 
tions, to each of which he ascribes a grace peculiar 
to itself : Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy 
Eucharist. To Confirmation belongs the over- 
shadowing and the enlightening of the Holy Ghost. 

Another Father of the Church, St. Cyprian, 
bishop of Carthage (258 a.d.), referring to the 
Baptism of the Samaritans by Philip the deacon, 
says that the Samaritans had received a valid and 
ecclesiastical Baptism, and the apostles Peter and 
John did not baptize them again, but merely sup- 
plied what was lacking to them, in that they prayed 
for them, laid their hands on them, invoked the 
Holy Spirit and imparted Him to them. He then 
proceeds to say : " The same is done among our- 
selves when those who have been baptized in the 
Church are presented before the ecclesiastical supe- 
riors that by prayer and imposition of hands they 
may receive the Holy Ghost, and by the sign of the 
Lord be made perfect Christians." 

St. Jerome says : " Knowest thou not that it is 
customary in the Church for hands to be laid on 
those who have been baptized, and the Holy Ghost 
called down upon them ? Dost thou ask in what 
part of Scripture this is found ? In the Acts 

Digitized by 



of the Apostles. And even if we had not the testi- 
mony of Holy Scripture, the consent of the whole 
world would have the force of law." 

St. Augustine states expressly : " Confirmation is 
a sacrament ; it has power to impart the Holy 
Spirit to the soul, and is as truly a sacrament as is 

Many more similar witnesses might be adduced, 
but none are needed, as the testimony of the in- 
fallible Church is all-sufficient. 

The Ceremonies of Confirmation. 

1. The bishop goes up to the altar and prays 
that the Holy Ghost may cleanse the candidates 
for Confirmation from all sin. He then turns to- 
wards them, extends his hands over them, and 
beseeches the Holy Spirit to grant to them His 
sevenfold gifts. 

2. They approach the bishop ; he anoints them 
on the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross, 
saying : " I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and 
I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost. Amen." 

The imposition of hands is symbolical of the 
descent of the Holy Ghost. The chrism is a 
mixture of oil and balm. Wrestlers and athletes 
used to be anointed with oil to render their 

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The Ceremonies of Confirmation. 71 

limbs more supple. Balm is employed to pre- 
serve dead bodies from corruption. Thus the 
anointing with chrism signifies that the persons 
confirmed receive the grace to fight as valiant sol- 
diers for Christ, and to preserve the supernatural 
life of their soul from decay. And to show that 
they ought to confess Christ crucified openly and 
without fear the bishop anoints the forehead, which 
can be seen by all men. The Christian ought to 
say with St. Paul : "I am not ashamed of the 
Gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believeth." (Rom. i. 16.) 

After the anointing the bishop strikes the person 
who is confirmed gently on the cheek, saying : 
" Peace be with thee." This is to remind him 
that he must for Christ's sake bear patiently con- 
tempt and persecution, for : " Whosoever denieth 
the Son, the same hath not the Father ; he that 
confesseth the Son, hath the Father also." (1 John 
ii. 23.) 

The bishop's prayer that the person confirmed 
may have peace is the best wish that he could ex- 
press, for we know that " Christ is our peace," and 
by Him we have " access to the Father." (Eph. ii. 
14, 18.) 

Finally, the bishop gives his blessing to all those 
who are confirmed, extending his hands once more 
over them. While receiving this benediction they 
should keep before their minds the graces bestowed 
upon them in this sacrament. 

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y 2 Con firtnation. 

Names and Sponsors in Confirmation* 

It is permissible at Confirmation, as in Baptism, 
to take another name, to show that one has become 
a new man. 

The rule of the Church ordains that at Confirma- 
tion sponsors shall be present, who shall present 
the candidates to the bishop, and during the cere- 
mony lay their right hand on the shoulder of those 
who are confirmed, to signify that they are pre- 
pared to help and support them in the spiritual 
combat. These sponsors must, like the godparents 
in Baptism, be themselves confirmed ; they must be 
of the same sex as the person for whom they stand, 
and be also well instructed in religion and of irre- 
proachable life, so that they may give him a good 
example. The duties of godparents at Confirma- 
tion are the same as those at Baptism. Sponsor- 
ship at Confirmation, as at Baptism, creates a spirit- 
ual relationship between the person who confirms 
and the one who is confirmed, and also his natural 
parents, and between the confirmed and his god- 
parents. Marriage cannot be contracted between 
any two of them without a papal dispensation ; 
a dispensation must also be obtained if either of 
them be already married, or the marriage will be 
annulled. Religious are not eligible as godparents, 
because they cannot fulfil the obligations attached 
to sponsorship. 

Digitized by 

" TEbere appeareb to tbem rarteb tongues, as it were of fire, an© 
tbes were all filleo witb tbe Isols <Bbo»t."— Bets ii. 3, 4. 


Reflection. — After we have been made children 
of God by Baptism, it behooves us to grow up and get 
strong spiritually; hence the necessity of the Sacrament 
of Confirmation, in which we receive the Holy Ghost 
with His gifts, that we may become strong and perfect 
Christians and soldiers of Christ, able to combat and 
conquer the enemies of our salvation. Our passions 
are strong and seek to induce us to prefer what is sin- 
ful to the will of God ; the world, by its evil influence 
and human respect, endeavors to entice us away from 
the path of duty, and the devil, ever on the alert, makes 
every effort to bring us back into the slavery of sin. 
We need light to enable us to know, perceive and 
escape these dangers, and strength to overcome our 
foes. It is principally in the Sacrament of Confirmation 
that the Holy Ghost imparts this light and this strength. 

Practice. — Let us often bear in mind that we have 
been enlisted as soldiers in the army of Jesus Christ 
to combat and conquer the world, the flesh and the 
devil, and that it behooves us to struggle bravely and 
unceasingly against these enemies of our soul. Let us 
beseech the Holy Ghost to direct us by His light in the 
path of virtue, and to strengthen us in time of combat 
with temptation, so that we may never be untrue to our 
profession of Christians and soldiers of Christ. 

Prayer. — Come, Holy Ghost, enlighten me, that I 
may know my duty to God. and strengthen me, that I 
may courageously perform it, so that I may ever keep 
the faith, fight the good fight and win the crown of life 
promised to those who are faithful unto death. O Mary, 
obtain these graces for me. Amen. 

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Names and Sponsors in Confirmation. 


Practical Application. 

1. Let us never be ashamed of our faith, but 
rather let us embrace every opportunity of showing 
ourselves to be Christians and Catholics. The 
good example which we give to others will serve 
as an encouragement to them to live up to their 
creed. Let us be steadfast, mindful of the Apostle's 
exhortation : " Fight the good fight of faith, lay 
hold on eternal life, whereunto thou are called, 
and hast confessed a good confession before many 
witnesses." (i Tim. vi. 12.) 

2. It is the duty of parents to see that their 
children are well prepared for Confirmation. They 
should not allow temporal considerations to weigh 
with them in the choice of godparents for them, 
but select persons of upright life and sound ortho- 
doxy. They should also take care that on the day 
of Confirmation all is done according to rule. " As 
for you, let the unction, which you have received 
from Him, abide in you." (1 John ii. 27.) 


St. Jerome states that it was customary in his 
time for persons living in remote towns, who had 
been baptized by a priest or a deacon, to present 
themselves before the bishop, that he might lay his 
hands upon them and call down upon them the 
Holy Ghost. 

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Of St. Wilfrid, bishop of Northumbria, it is re- 
corded that he journeyed about his diocese on horse- 
back, " baptizing and confirming by imposition of 

We also read of St. Cuthbert, bishop of Hex- 
ham, that when on his travels he used to lay his 
hands on the newly baptized in order that they 
might receive the Holy Ghost. 

There is not a single instance on record of a 
priest presuming to lay his hands on a baptized 
person with the idea of thereby communicating 
the graces of the Holy Spirit to him. 

Digitized by 

Ube flDost ftols Sacrament of tbe Bltar. 

After the Saviour had infused sanctifying grace 
into us weak mortals in holy Baptism, and strength- 
ened the same in us in Confirmation, He desired, 
of His great mercy, to give us a means of preserv- 
ing and increasing that grace within our souls. * 
This means we have in that wondrous Sacrament 
in which, as the Council of Trent teaches, the 
Lord poured out the treasures of His divine love 
towards mankind, at the same time instituting a 
memorial of His love. This Sacrament is called 
the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, It is one 
of the chief mysteries of the Christian faith, it is 
the fulfilment of Christian hope, the life-giving 
power of Christian charity. 

The Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and 
the true blood of Jesus Christ, which, under the 
appearances of bread and wine, is actually, truly, 
and substantially present for the nourishing of our 
souls as soon as the priest at the altar pronounces 
the words of consecration. 

I. The Church teaches that the body and blood 
of Christ is actually present under the appearance 

Digitized by 

76 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

of bread and wine ; that is to say, the Most Holy 
Sacrament is not merely a symbol of Christ — it is 
Jesus Christ Himself in His own person. 

Christ is truly present, that is, He is here in this 
Sacrament, not only in so far as I believe or think 
Him to be here, but He is really present, whether 
I believe it or not 

He is substantially present, with His whole being, 
His flesh and blood, His body and soul, His 
divinity and humanity, as He was when He lived 
on earth and when He died upon the cross, as He 
now is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the 
Father ; only now He is not visible, but He is 
hidden under alien appearances. 

In the sacrament it is true that the body and 
blood of Christ alone are represented; but since we 
know that Christ, being risen from the dead, dieth 
no more, we know that the soul of Christ is equally 
present with His body and blood. And foras- 
much as the divine nature is united to the human 
in the person of Christ, so both His humanity and 
His divinity are present in this Sacrament. In 
virtue of His divinity Jesus Christ is omnipresent, 
but not in regard to His humanity; His human 
nature is visible only in heaven, at the right hand 
of the Father ; on earth it is invisible, concealed in 
the Sacrament of the Altar. 

2. It is as the food of the soul that Christ is present 
upon our altars. In order that this might be made 
evident He chose bread and wine as the outward 

Digitized by 

The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 77 

sign of the Sacrament. He appointed water for the 
matter in Baptism, to signify that in Baptism the 
soul was made clean, as the body is cleansed by 
water ; and for the matter in Confirmation He 
chose oil, to indicate that Confirmation strengthens 
the soul, as oil does the body. In the same way 
the matter of bread and wine signifies that as the 
body is nourished by food and drink, so the soul is 
nourished in this Sacrament ; and that it is as in- 
dispensable to our spiritual life and health as food 
and drink are to the life and health of the body. 

3. This Adorable Mystery is called by many dif- 
ferent names, some of which express what it is in 
itself, others the effect it produces or what it is to 
those who receive it. 

Above all, this Sacrament is called the Eucharist, 
that is to say, good gift \ or thanksgiving, because 
Our Lord gave thanks before He distributed it, 
and because we owe Him our highest thanks for 
this, the greatest of all gifts. 

It is called the Most Holy Sacrament of the 
Altar, because it is upon the altar that the act of 
transubstantiation takes place; also the Holy of 
Holies, the Lord's Body {Corpus Christi), the 
Sacred Host, the Adorable Sacrament, the Chalice 
of the Lord. 

And forasmuch as Christ is present in the Holy 
Sacrament for our spiritual sustenance, we speak of 
it as Communion, because by it the soul is united to 
her heavenly Spouse ; or as the Food of the Soul, 

Digitized by 

78 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

the Lord's Supper, the Table of the Lord, the Viati- 
cum. And in so far as it is a wondrous, supernatural 
food, which we ought only to receive to be in a 
state of angelic purity, we also call it the Bread of 
Heaven, the Food of Angels, the Manna of Sal- 

The receiving of this Sacrament is called com- 
municating. In Holy Scripture the expression 
" breaking bread " is made use of. (Acts ii. 46.) 

Types of the Blessed Sacrament* 

This Sacred Mystery was instituted by the divine 
love, not only to be our spiritual sustenance, but 
also to keep ever before our minds the sacrifice of 
the cross, and to apply to us the graces it merited 
for us. We find it typified under the Old Dispen- 
sation both as food and as a sacrifice. 

The types of the Blessed Sacrament under the 
form of food are : 

1. The Tree of Life in paradise, which would 
have preserved mankind , from physical death had 
it not lost paradise by sin. The Blessed Sacra- 
ment is this tree of life, whose Fruit is a pledge of 
eternal life, and which is restored to us by the 
merits of Jesus Christ. 

2. The Miraculous Manna, which fell in the 
desert, and of which the children of Israel ate dur- 
ing the space of forty years. It fell daily, and 

Digitized by 

Types of the Blessed Sacrament. 79 

every one was allowed to gather it, but only as much 
as he required for one day. On Fridays twice the 
usual quantity fell, because the people were not 
permitted to gather it on the Sabbath. Ordinarily 
if any of the manna was kept until the following 
day it was found to be full of worms, and it putre- 
fied. But what was gathered on Friday and kept 
until the Sabbath did not putrefy, nor were worms 
bred in it. With this manna the Israelites were 
fed until they reached the borders of the land of 
Chanaan. (Ex. xvi. 20, 24, 35.) After they had 
entered the promised land, and could enjoy the 
fruits of the land, the manna ceased to fall. (Josue 
v. 12.) Now, as this manna was no ordinary food, 
but miraculous, so the heavenly Manna, the Adora- 
ble Sacrament, is a supernatural food, which we 
receive in the desert of this life for the nourishing 
of our souls, until we shall behold God face to face 
in the celestial paradise. 

3. Another type of the Holy Eucharist is to be 
seen in the miraculous food which was given to Elias 
in the wilderness, in the strength of which he 
walked forty days and forty nights unto the Mount 
of God — Horeb. (3 Kings xix. 8.) We, who are 
pilgrims here in this valley of tears, are invigor- 
ated by the Blessed Sacrament, in order that we 
may attain our goal, and, going on from virtue to 
virtue, may at length reach the holy mount, our 
heavenly country. 

Thus the Holy Sacrament of the Altar is the 

Digitized by 

So The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

fulfilment under the New Testament of that which 
we find foreshadowed under the Old Dispensation. 


The Saviour vouchsafed Himself to prepare His 
disciples for the reception of this exalted mystery, 
and to do so in such a way as to exclude the possi- 
bility of error and misapprehension. 

1. First of all, Our Lord showed His disciples 
that He possessed the power of changing one sub- 
stance into another. At the marriage of Cana He 
changed water into wine. (John ii. i-n.) 

2. He next proved that He was able to increase 
matter. This He did by the miraculous multipli- 
cation of bread on two occasions : Once he fed five* 
thousand men, besides women and children, with 
five loaves and two fishes, and there remained 
twelve baskets full of fragments. (Matt. xiv. 15-21.) 
At another time He fed four thousand men, be- 
sides women and children, with seven loaves and a 
few little fishes, and there remained over and above 
seven baskets full of broken pieces. (Matt. xv. 

3. After the disciples and all the multitudes had, 
in these and many other miracles, seen the might 
and power of the Lord, He promised them in the 
plainest words that He would give them a food 
more wonderful than the manna in the desert, a 

Digitized by 



food which would consist of nothing less than His 
own body and blood. On the day following that 
whereon the miraculous multiplication of the 
loaves took place, the multitudes came again seek- 
' ing for Jesus. They were desirous to make Him 
their king, for a king who provided food for his 
subjects in this fashion would be of great service 
to them. But Jesus said to the multitudes : " Labor 
not for the meat which perisheth, but for that 
which endureth unto life everlasting, which the 
Son of man will give you." (John vi. 27.) And 
as they entreated Him, "Lord, give us always this 
bread," He said unto them : "lam the Bread of 
life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert 
and are dead. But this is the bread which cometh 
down from heaven: that if any man eat of it he 
may not die. I am the living bread, which came 
down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, 
he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give 
is My flesh for the life of the world. The Jews 
therefore strove among themselves, saying : How 
can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then 
Jesus said to them : Amen, amen, I say unto you, 
Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and 
drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. 
He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood 
hath everlasting life : and I will raise him up in 
the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and 
My blood is drink indeed ; he that eateth My 
flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I 

Digitized by 

82 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I 
live by the Father : so he that eateth Me the same 
also shall live by Me. This is the bread that came 
down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat 
manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread 
shall live forever." (John vi. 48-59.) 

Many persons murmured on hearing this, and 
said : " This saying is hard." From that time sev- 
eral of His disciples went back and walked no 
more with Him. The Lord let them depart and 
asked the twelve : " Will you, also, go away ? And 
Simon Peter answered Him : " Lord, to whom 
shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life ; 
and we have believed and have known that Thou 
art the Christ, the Son of God." (John vi. 61-70.) 
Thus for the second time Peter made his confes- 
sion of faith in the name of all the apostles, and 
the disciples were now prepared for the mystery. 

Institution of the Blessed Sacrament* 

The hour having come in which Our Lord was to 
enter upon His Passion, He fulfilled the promise 
that He had made to His disciples. It was on the 
day before His death, on the Thursday, that is, 
before Easter. That was the day whereon the 
paschal lamb was to be eaten, and the Saviour, 
with His disciples, did as the law prescribed. 
Afterwards He washed His disciples' feet, to teach 

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Institution of the Blessed Sacrament. 83 

them humility ; then, sitting down at 4he table, He 
instituted the great mystery of the New Covenant. 
The account of this is given by the evangelists 
Matthew, Mark, and Luke in these words : 

" Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and 
gave it to His disciples, saying : Take ye and eat ; 
this is My body, which is given for you. In like 
manner also He took the chalice and gave thanks, 
and gave it to His disciples, saying : Drink ye all 
of this ; for this is My blood of the New Testa- 
ment, which shall be shed for many for the remis- 
sion of sins. Do this for a commemoration of Me." 
(Matt. xxvi. 26-28 ; Mark xiv. 22-24 ; Luke xxii. 
19, 20.) 

From the evangelists' narrative we learn that : 

1. The Saviour took bread and wine, gave 
thanks, blessed them and gave them to His dis- 
ciples, not as being bread and wine, but as being 
His flesh and His blood. 

2. In order to show that He made use of no fig- 
ure of speech, but that what He gave His disciples 
to eat was in reality what He stated it to be, He 
added to the expression "My body" the words, 
" which shall be given for you " ; and to the expres- 
sion " chalice " the words, " of the New Testa- 
ment in My blood." There could be no question 
as to its being any longer bread and wine. The 
Saviour had changed the bread and wine into the 
flesh that was crucified, the blood that was shed, 
and given them to His disciples. A conversion of 

Digitized by 

84 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

the whole substance (transubstantiation) had taken 

3. What was then done by the Saviour His apos- 
tles were also to do. They were to change the 
bread and wine into the body and blood of the 
Lord, and to eat and drink it, remembering .that 
this body was given, this blood shed for them. 
And this was not to be done once or twice, but in 
perpetuity, until the second coming of the Lord. 

Thus Our Lord conferred on His apostles the 
power to perform the same act that He had per- 
formed. And as this was to be continued through- 
out all time, as long as the Church shall endure, 
these powers were to be handed down to the suc- 
cessors of the apostles — the bishops and priests. 
In the holy sacrifice of the Mass they make use 
of these powers ; the priest at the altar does 
exactly the same as Our Lord did at the Last Sup- 
per. He takes bread and wine, blesses them, pro- 
nounces the self-same words which the Saviour 
pronounced, and thereby changes the outward sign 
of bread and wine into the body of the Saviour. 

That which lies upon the altar before the priest 
after the consecration does indeed still appear to 
be bread and wine ; but this is not so, the acci- 
dents of bread and wine alone are there. The 
bread in which this change has been effected yet 
retains the form, the color, the taste of bread, as 
it had before ; the wine has still the color, the 
smell, the taste of wine ; but the substance is com- 

Digitized by 

Institution of the Blessed Sacrament. 85 

pletely banished, so that absolutely nothing remains 
of the bread and wine ; they have become the flesh 
and blood of the God-man. This doctrine is 
expressed in the old rhyme : 

My Lord and God, 
In bread and wine 
Thou dost confine 
Thy gift divine. 
No image mere 
Doth now appear, 
Our Savioar dear 
Is present here. 
The substance gone, 
Semblance alone 
Of bread remains ; 
That form contains 
Our gracious Lord, 
The Incarnate Word. 
This bread we see 
We know to be 
None else but He, 
The Lord most high 
To man brought nigh. 

Our Lord with His whole being remains present 
as long as the accidents of bread and wine subsist. 

4. Hence we see that the Adorable Sacrament of 
the Altar lacks none of the essentials of a sacra- 
ment. But it is not only the fact that in this Sacra- 
ment we receive Our Lord Himself, whereas in the 
others we receive His grace alone, that differen- 
tiates it from the rest of the sacraments ; there is 

86 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

another intrinsic difference : In the other sacra- 
ments the operation of grace is coincident with the 
use of matter. Water and the word of God are of no 
effect unless the water is poured upon the head of 
the person baptized. But in the Sacrament of the 
Altar Christ is present, whether He is received or 
not. As soon as the celebrant has pronounced the 
words of consecration over the bread and wine 
Our Lord is present, and. He remains present as 
long as the species last ; so that we are right in 
prostrating ourselves in worship before the conse- 
crated Host. 

5. Christ is not only present under each species, 
but under every separated part, however small, of 
each species, for Christ cannot be divided, it is the 
appearances only that are divided. The apostles 
broke the bread and divided among themselves the 
wine which Christ gave to them, and yet each one 
received Our Lord whole and entire, and it is said 
distinctly in the Acts of the Apostles that " they per- 
severed in the communication of the breaking of 
bread." (Acts ii. 42.) The Council of Trent speaks 
as follows : " If any man denieth that in the ven- 
erable Sacrament of the Eucharist Christ is con- 
tained under each species, and under every part 
of each [when separation has been made], let him 
be anathema." (Sess. xiii. 3.) 

That the body of Christ should remain indi- 
visible when the elements are divided is a mystery 
which surpasses the powers of our reason to com- 

Digitized by 

Institution of the Blessed Sacrament 87 

prehend. The Fathers explain it by two very 
good comparisons. They say : One sees but a sin- 
gle reflection of one's face in a mirror, whether 
it be large or small. And if the mirror is broken 
one will see one's face in each and every fragment. 
Again, if a fire is divided, each part forms a whole 
fire. So it is with the body of Christ. 

6. As, after the consecration, Our Lord is pres- 
ent under the veil of the Sacrament, and if He be 
not received remains present as long as the species 
last, a worthy dwelling-place must be prepared for 
Him. Consequently, in every church where the 
sacred Host is reserved, on one altar a tabernacle 
is erected, which is to serve the same purpose 
under the New Dispensation as the sacred tent or 
tabernacle did under the Old Covenant ; that is, to 
be the dwelling-place of God among men. In 
this tabernacle, of which the interior is of gold or 
costly material, or at least draped with white silk, 
the sacred Hosts are kept in a ciborium. It is 
not allowable to keep anything besides in the tab- 
ernacle. And in order that every one who enters 
the church may know where the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, the Light of the world, is reserved, a light 
is kept continually burning before the altar, a lamp 
which is never permitted to go out. This lamp, 
which must be fed only with pure vegetable oil, 
must be kept burning both by day and by night, to 
indicate that the worship paid to the Saviour must 
be unceasing. 

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88 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

Confirmation of the Doctrine of the Most 
Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

Corroborative testimony to the truth of the state- 
ment that Christ verily and indeed gave His body 
to be eaten and His blood to be drunk, and that 
the teaching of the Church on this point is identi- 
cal with the doctrine delivered by Our Lord to 
His disciples, is afforded by St. Paul. He was not 
present at the Last Supper, for his conversion only 
took place several years after the death of Christ. 
But the Lord made known this most important 
event to him by revelation, and we find him writ- 
ing to the Corinthians thus : " I have received of 
the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, 
that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He 
was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, 
broke, and said : Take ye and eat : this is My 
body which shall be delivered for you ; this do for 
the commemoration of Me. In like manner also the 
chalice after He had supped, saying : This chalice 
is the New Testament in My blood ; this do ye, as 
often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of 
Me." (i Cor. xi. 23-25.) 

In another place the same apostle expresses this 
belief in other words, which admit of no miscon- 
struction. He is warning the Corinthians against 
idolatry, which, being the worship of the devil, is 
incompatible with the reception of the Lord's Sup- 

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Testimony of the Fathers of the Church. 89 

per. He adds : " I speak as to wise men [that is, 
to those who are well instructed]. The chalice of 
benediction, which we bless, is it not the com- 
munion of the blood of Christ ? And the bread, 
which we break, is it not the partaking of the body 
of the Lord?" (1 Cor. x. 15, 16.) 

Again, when speaking of unworthy communions 
he utters these terrible words : " Whosoever shall 
eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord un- 
worthily : shall be guilty of the body and of the 
blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. xi. 27.) 

In this manner the Apostle of the Gentiles is 
able from direct revelation to himself to confirm 
the account given by the evangelists. 

Testimony of the Fathers of the Church* 

The testimony of the Fathers of the Church fol- 
lows, without any interval of time, upon that of the 
apostles. The earliest witness is St. Ignatius, who 
was a disciple of two of the apostles — St. Peter 
and St. John — and who saw Our Lord Himself 
after the Resurrection. He succeeded the apostle 
Peter at Antioch, but he wrote to several other 
Christian communities ; eight of his epistles are 
still extant. In his epistle to the Romans he says : 
" I desire no perishable food, I desire the divine 
Bread, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Life, 
which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

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90 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

I desire His blood, the celestial drink, which is 
never-failing charity, life eternal." 

St. Irenaeus, bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of 
St. Polycarp, who in his turn was a scholar of St. 
John the Evangelist. Thus from Polycarp's lips 
he heard the teaching of St. John. He writes : 
" We offer to God the bread we have blessed and 
the chalice we have blessed and call upon the 
Holy Ghost, that He may cause this oblation of 
bread to become the body of Christ, this wine 
His blood, in order that he who receives these 
gifts may obtain remission of sin and everlasting 

We will not quote from the writings of Tertullian, 
Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, or of any later 
witnesses to this doctrine, with the exception of 
Origen, a disciple of Clement of Alexandria, who 
expounded Holy Scripture with such depth and 
unction that his scholars thought the Holy Ghost 
spoke by his mouth. In a homily upon the cen- 
turion's servant he says : " When you eat this sa- 
cred, incorruptible food, when you receive the 
Bread and the Cup of Life, you eat and drink the 
body and blood of the Lord, and the Lord Him- 
self enters under your roof. Humble yourself, 
therefore, like the centurion, and say with him : 
Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come 
into my house." 

Instead of bringing forward any more witnesses, 
as might easily be done, we will lay before the 

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Refutation of Heretics. 91 

reader the testimony of the Fathers who assembled, 
to the number of three hundred, at the first Coun- 
cil of Nicea. They solemnly declared that : "We 
must not confine our attention to the bread and 
the chalice offered upon the altar, but raise our 
hearts upward and perceive by faith the Lamb of 
God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who 
is sacrificed upon that altar in an unbloody manner 
by the priest ; and when we truly receive His pre- 
cious body and blood we must firmly believe that 
this is the actual pledge of our resurrection. For 
this reason a small portion only is given to us to 
remind us that it is intended for the sanctification 
of our souls, not the stilling of our hunger." 

Hence it will be seen that the beliefs of the early 
Church differed in no respect from the truths 
which she now teaches and which we hold stead- 

Refutation of Heretics* 

The pride and unbelief of the different sectaries 
who place their opinion above the plain words of 
Christ, the teaching of the Church, and the convic- 
tion of Catholic Christendom, have made a miser- 
able attempt to foist upon Our Lord's words a dif- 
ferent meaning to that which they naturally convey 
to the mind. Yet those who repudiate the expla- 
nation given by the Church of the words of institu- 

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92 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

tion cannot agree together as to their true meaning 
and mutually reject each other's interpretation, 
thereby proving all the more clearly the necessity 
of an infallible authority. 

Among all the various interpretations those of 
Luther, of Calvin and Zwingli are alone worth men- 
tioning, for their adherents still form large bodies, 
although the Lutherans are fewer than they used 
to be, the sect being gradually absorbed into that 
of Calvin, whose followers are known by the name 
of the Reformed Church. 

Luther was perfectly convinced in his own mind 
that the Sacrament of the Catholic Church was the 
true one. He fulminated against Calvin, Zwingli, 
and others, even calling on the secular authorities 
to suppress their false doctrines by the stake and 
the sword. Still, in his conceit and obstinacy, he 
persisted that although the Sacrament was the true 
body and blood of Christ, yet the bread and wine 
were present in it, the body of Christ being in, with, 
and beneath the bread. This was indeed the most 
clumsy of interpretations. Had it been true Christ 
would have said : " Take ye and eat, in this bread 
is My body " ; whereas He expressly said : " This is 
My body." 

Calvin and Zwingli gave out a more plausible 
theory. They asserted that the Saviour only in- 
tended to say : " This signifies My body." Wine 
and bread were only a sign, a figure of Christ's flesh 
and blood ; the Lord's Supper was solely a com- 

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Refutation of Heretics. 


memorative supper, intended to remind us of 
Christ's death. 

In contradiction to this it must be remembered 
that : 

1. Christ, when speaking to the disciples at Ca- 
pharnaum, distinctly said : " My flesh is meat in- 
deed, and My blood is drink indeed." And on 
that very account the people took scandal, because 
they understood the Lord's words in their literal 
sense, and to eat flesh with the blood in it was an 
abomination to them. 

2. Christ declared to the apostles that that which 
He distributed to them was what should be given 
for them and what should be shed for them. Now 
bread and wine were not given and shed for the 
sins of the world, but the body and blood of 

3. Nowhere throughout the whole of the Holy 
Scriptures do we find the word is employed in the 
sense of signifies unless this is explained in the 
context to be the case. Our Lord does, it is true, 
say : I am the good shepherd (John x. 11), I am 
the true vine (xv. 1), I am the door (x. 7); but He 
is the good shepherd, He is the true vine, He is 
really the door. And if in these forms of speech 
He employs a figure He explains it immediately. 
For instance, when He says : I am the true vine, 
He adds : You are the branches, and proceeds to 
expound the parable, as He does whenever He 
speaks of Himself under a figure. But in respect 

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94 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

to the Lord's Supper neither image nor parable is 

4. Our Lord undeniably says : " Do this for a 
commemoration of Me." We are to remember that 
Jesus gave His body, shed His blood for us. But 
bread and wine are no memorial of a man's death. 

5. If the bread and wine we receive are nothing 
more than mere commemorative signs there can be 
no such thing as an unworthy communion, for one 
cannot commit sin in swallowing a morsel of ordi- 
nary bread and a mouthful of ordinary wine. Yet 
we know that the Apostle says plainly : " Whoso- 
ever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the 
Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of 
the blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. xi. 27.) 

6. It is urged by many that it is quite inconceiv- 
able that Christ should be present under appear- 
ances which have nothing in common with flesh 
and blood. Furthermore, they assert it to be im- 
possible that the whole body of Our Lord should be 
contained within the narrow space of the sacred 
Host. If this were so, they say, the body of Christ 
would be at one and the same time in the taber- 
nacle on earth and at the right hand of the Father 
in heaven. It would be visible and invisible, to be 
partaken of and not to be partaken of, at one and 
the same time ; and other similar objections. But 
these arguments might just as well be urged against 
the divinity of Christ. It might just as well be 
said to be impossible that God could become man, 
that the Word should have been made flesh and have 

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Refutation of Heretics. 95 

dwelt among us. For it might be said that the 
sacred humanity of Christ could not be united to 
His divinity, because the human body is as little 
commensurate with His divinity as are the accidents 
of bread, and no less incapable of containing 
within itself the infinite Godhead than the sacred 
Host. Moreover, when Our Lord became incar- 
nate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin He was at 
the same moment present in the bosom of the 
eternal Father. He was then at one and the same 
time visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, 
passible and impassible. Protestants, and all who 
believe in the divinity of Christ, have no right to 
impugn the Blessed Sacrament and deny the real 
presence of Christ in that Sacrament. The two mys- 
teries, that of the Incarnation and the Redemption 
and that of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, must 
stand or fall together. Reject the Adorable Sacra- 
ment of the Altar, and the belief in Christ's divinity 
must go too. We know, however, that Jesus Christ 
Our Lord is truly God. The prophets announced 
this truth, angels proclaimed it, Our Lord Himself 
asserted it, His miracles confirmed it, God the 
Father attested it, the disciples certified themselves 
of it, the Church teaches it — consequently the 
Saviour is also verily and indeed present in the 
Blessed Sacrament, and no human wisdom can 
destroy the force of divine authority. 

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96 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

Communion under One Kind. 

Since the Saviour is wholly and completely 
present under each kind, He is wholly and com- 
pletely received under each kind ; consequently 
the objection is unfounded which some make, that 
in the Catholic Church the Sacrament is adminis- 
tered in a mutilated form because the laity com- 
municate under one kind. 

1. At the Last Supper Our Lord instituted the 
Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar under both 
kinds, because the Sacrament was the same sacri- 
fice which He was about to offer on the following 
day, and in which the blood was separated from 
the body. For the same reason the holy sacrifice 
of the Mass must be offered under both kinds, 
because it is the same oblation which was made 
upon the cross. But the act of receiving the Host, 
holy communion, is not a sacrifice, and therefore 
it is not necessary that communion should be made 
under both kinds. The words : " Drink ye all of it," 
only applied to the apostles who celebrated the 
holy sacrifice with Our Lord at the Last Supper. 
The early Christians communicated under one 
kind ; we read in the Acts of their " breaking 
bread from house to house." (Acts ii. 46.) 

2. It is true that Our Lord says : " He that eateth 
My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlast- 
ing life." (John vi. 55.) But immediately after 

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Communion Under One Kind. 97 

He says : " He that eateth this bread shall live for* 
ever." (John vi. 59.) So the apostle Peter said to 
the lame man at the gate of the temple: " Silver and 
gold have I none " (Acts iii. 6), by which he meant: 
I have neither silver nor gold. Our Lord's words 
are to be understood thus : Whoso neither eateth 
My flesh, nor drinketh My blood cannot have 
eternal life. St. Paul says expressly: " Whosoever 
shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the 
Lord unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to 
himselfo" (1 Cor. xi. 27, 29.) 

3. At more solemn celebrations of holy Mass in 
the early churches the faithful did undoubtedly com- 
municate under both kinds. After the communion 
of the bishop the deacon used to say : " Draw 
near in the fear of the Lord, with faith and charity." 
Thereupon first the men, afterwards the women, 
went up. The men laid the right hand across the 
left and received the consecrated bread in the 
hollow of the palm, the deacon meanwhile pronounc- 
ing the words : " The body of the Lord," and the 
communicants answering: " Amen." The deacon 
then gave them the chalice, saying : " The blood 
of the Lord," and the communicants again re- 
sponded : " Amen." Women received Our Lord's 
body upon a linen cloth laid over their hands, and 
then His sacred blood, the deacon repeating the 
same words as before. 

But on account of the great desire of the early 
Christians for frequent communion, and the im- 

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98 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

possibility of assisting daily at the holy sacrifice of 
the Mass, the faithful were permitted to take the 
holy communion with them to their homes and 
consume it in their own houses. Naturally this 
could only be done under the appearance of bread. 
A striking and indisputable proof of this custom is 
found in the writings of Tertullian. He is ad- 
monishing a woman who is married to a heathen to 
be very careful, when she communicates herself at 
home, not to let her husband know anything about 
it. " Your husband," he writes, " must be kept in 
ignorance concerning the food which you take 
before any other food ; and should he discover 
that it is bread, on no account let him ever suspect 
that it is that celestial bread which we call the 
Lord's body." 

4. In like manner the hermits, who only assembled 
together on Sundays for holy Mass, were accus- 
tomed to take the Blessed Sacrament with them to 
their cells. It used to be carried, if possible, to the 
captives in prison. Sick people, too, had holy com- 
munion brought them in their own dwellings. In 
all these cases it was received under the ap- 
pearance of bread alone. 

The Christians employed small caskets or boxes, 
which could be suspended from the neck, for the 
reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. When the 
oratory of St. Ambrose in the Vatican Cemetery 
was opened, the bodies of several Christians were 
found on whose breast lay a golden box, 

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Communion Under One Kind. 99 

Pious parents were wont to pour two or three 
drops of the precious blood into the mouth of their 
infants who were too young to swallow a morsel of 
bread, with the conviction that they would thereby 
be made partakers of Our Lord and all His divine 

5. On Good Friday the officiating priest re- 
ceives only the sacred Host which was conse- 
crated on the preceding day, without the precious 
blood. Priests also as well as laymen receive the 
Blessed Sacrament under one kind only whenever 
they receive it otherwise than while celebrating 
Mass ; on Holy Thursday, for instance, or if it is 
given to them as viaticum. Under such circum- 
stances the priest is not privileged above the lay- 

6. The principal reason why the Lord's Supper 
was, at an early date, only administered under the 
one kind was to guard against the risk of accidents 
or desecration, which might so easily occur in the 
administration of the chalice. Besides, wine soon 
spoils ; and many people do not like drinking from 
a cup that has passed from mouth to mouth. 

At one period, however, it was compulsory upon 
Christians to receive communion in both kinds. It 
was when the sect of the Manichees arose, who 
repudiated wine, alleging it to be an invention of 
the devil. The Church then decreed that in every 
place where there were Manichees, or where they 
were suspected to be, communion should be dis- 

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ioo The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

pensed under both kinds as a protest against those 

In the year 1414 the Bohemians complained of 
the cup being withheld from them, and began on 
their own authority to receive communion in both 
kinds. After prolonged disputes, in which recourse 
was had to arms, the Council of Trent granted the 
cup to the laity. Yet this did not induce them to 
return to the Church ; for it was not the Sacrament 
about which they cared, but to carry out their own 
will. In Bavaria at one time the elector, fearing 
lest there should be a general apostasy for the same 
cause, persuaded the Pope to concede the cup to 
the laity. At first the faithful approached the 
Sacrament in great numbers ; but indifference soon 
crept in, and the ancient practice was reverted to, 
without any opposition being excited. 

Practical Application* 

1. The presence of Christ in the Most Holy 
Sacrament fills us with confidence and hope. It is 
an elevating thought that God is among men. It 
is the fulfilment of the words that St. John heard 
a voice saying : " He will dwell with them, and 
they shall be His people ; and God Himself with 
them shall be their God." (Apoc. xxi. 3.) This it 
is which causes St. Thomas of Aquinas, adapting 
to the Blessed Sacrament the words of Holy Scrip- 
ture (Deut. iv. 7), to exclaim joyfully : " There is 

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The Festival of Corpus Christu 101 

no people that have their God so near to them as 
the Christian people." 

2. The presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed 
Sacrament is the strongest foundation of our faith. 
A Church in which Our Lord Himself perpetually 
abides cannot possibly fall into any deadly errors. 
Of no other Church can it be said save of the 
Catholic Church : The Lord is with her and in her. 

3. Our Lord does not make manifest His 
majesty in the Blessed Sacrament. On the con- 
trary, He conceals His glory so that men may not 
be affrighted, as the Israelites were at Mt. Sinai 
when the majesty of the Lord was revealed : 
" Terrified and struck with fear, they stood afar 
off" (Ex. xx. 18) ; but the Lord wills that we 
should draw nigh to Him, and He invites us to ap- 
proach Him in the Blessed Sacrament. The de- 
vout soul delights to tarry with her Lord, to visit 
Him in the tabernacle. Thence the Saviour speaks 
to the heart. He hears and answers prayer, im- 
parting consolation in affliction and strength in 
time of temptation. 

The Festival of Corpus ChristL 

When, in the thirteenth century, the Waldenses 
and Albigenses, among other erroneous opinions, 
spread false doctrines concerning the Blessed Sac- 
rament, divine Providence ordained that, in oppo- 
sition to these errors, a public profession of faith 

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102 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

should be made by all Christendom, The will of 
God was made known to an obscure and pious 
religious named Juliana who lived near Liege. 
This humble and devout person had been privileged 
to behold in her lifetime heavenly mysteries, and 
great graces had been bestowed on her. In a 
vision she saw the full moon in its splendor, one 
dark spot only marring the brilliance of its orb. It 
was revealed to her that this spot denoted the 
absence of a festival which should be devoted ex- 
clusively to honoring the Most Holy Sacrament. 
At the same time it was enjoined upon her to tell 
this to the bishop, and suggest that he should cele- 
brate such a feast with the clergy of his diocese. 
Another religious had a similar vision about the 
same time, and also a recluse of the name of Eva. 
The bishop approved the idea of a festival with 
this object as tending to promote the glory of God 
and the good of souls, and instituted it in his dio- 
cese. The new festival commended itself to all 
the faithful, and in 1264 Pope Urban IV., who had 
formerly been archdeacon of Liege, made it bind- 
ing upon the whole Church. Since Our Saviour 
dwells and abides with us in this Holy Sacrament, it 
is meet that we should prepare a triumph for Our 
King and Lord, and publicly pay Him our solemn 
homage ; and as the day of the institution of the 
Sacrament falls in a time of mourning, the feast of 
Corpus Christi was appointed to be kept on the 
Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Thus after the 

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The Festival of Corpus Christi. 103 

work of creation, redemption, and sanctification is 
completed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 
and when, upon the feast of the Holy Trinity, we 
have rendered to the Triune God the thanks which 
we owe Him, it is just that with holy joy we should 
pay honor to the Adorable Sacrament as the centre 
and the sum of our life as Christians, as the source 
whence all graces flow. The festival is called the 
feast of Corpus Christie the body of Christ. Like 
the other great feasts, it has a Mass and an office 
proper to it, and also an octave. It was for this day 
that St. Thomas of Aquinas composed the beau- 
tiful hymn Lauda Sion, which is recited after the 
epistle. At the conclusion of this sequence it is 
customary in some places to expose on this day the 
Bread of Angels in the monstrance, and give the 
blessing with it. After High Mass there is a 
solemn procession, in which the highest ecclesiastic 
present carries the sacred Host beneath a canopy, 
accompanied by the clergy. In Catholic countries 
this procession passes through the streets of the 
town or village, which are gaily decorated for the 
occasion. The faithful follow carrying lighted 
tapers, their heads bared, singing hymns and recit- 
ing prayers. In many places it is usual to erect 
four altars, at each of which an appropriate gospel 
is read. On the eve of the feast and throughout 
the octave evening devotions are held, during which 
the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. 

In order to stimulate the zeal and devotion of 

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io4 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

the faithful, Popes Urban IV., Martin V., and 
Eugene IV. granted various indulgences to all 
who should attend the services in honor of the 
Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar on the festival 
and in the octave. 

Hymn to the Blessed Sacrament* 

The world's salvation, Christ, Our Lord, 
Both flesh and blood, Incarnate Word ; 
His manhood pure, His Godhead's might 
Are here concealed from mortal sight. 

The Paschal Lamb, now slain anew, 
In this blest Sacrament we view — 
The Lamb who died a death of shame 
Our souls from slavery to redeem. 

This is true manna from the skies 
That here upon our altar lies ; 
The Bread of Life beyond the grave 
Man from eternal death doth save. 

The ark of old, the monstrance now, 
The dwelling-place of God below ; 
Both God and man we know to be 
Beneath this sacred mystery. 

How great, O Lord, that love of Thine 
Shown in this Sacrament divine ! 
O living Bread, who eats of Thee 
Is blest to all eternity. 

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 105 

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus* 

Since in Our Lord the manhood is united to the 
Godhead so as to form but one and the self-same 
Person, we worship not the divinity only but also the 
humanity of Christ ; the latter not in itself, but 
only as it is united to His divinity. In Christ the 
manhood cannot be separated from the Godhead ; 
therefore when we worship His Sacred Heart it is 
as a part of the manhood united to the divinity, 
and, moreover, as a symbol of His divine charity. 
For under this aspect the Person of Our Lord is 
the principal object of our veneration. The wounds 
of Christ are the effects of His love, and the wound 
of His Sacred Heart, which was pierced by the 
lance, is the chief of these and the most replete 
with mystic meaning. 

Although the cultus of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
was practised in the Christian Church from the 
earliest times, no special festival was celebrated in 
its honor until the seventeenth century. And as it 
pleased almighty God to make use of a poor re- 
ligious for the introduction of the feast of Corpus 
Christi, so He again chose a nun, Blessed Margaret 
Mary Alacoque, of the Order of the Visitation, to 
whom to reveal His will regarding this new devotion. 
Our Lord appeared to her one day and showed her 
His pierced Heart, burning with the fire of charity. 
It was encircled by a crown of thorns and surmounted 

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io6 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

by a cross. He said to her : " Behold the Heart 
that has so loved mankind, that has borne every- 
thing and spared nothing to testify its love for 
them. But instead of gratitude I receive from the 
generality of men nothing but ingratitude, evinced 
in their contempt, their irreverence, their unworthy 
communions, the coldness they manifest towards 
Me in this Sacrament of My love. This ingratitude 
is more painful to Me than all I suffered in the 
course of My Passion ; did they show Me but a 
little love in return I should count as nothing all 
I have suffered for them ; nay, were it possible, I 
should be ready to suffer yet more for them." Our 
Saviour than bade her inform the bishop that it 
was His will to have a particular festival celebrated 
on the first Friday after the octave of Corpus 
Christi, in order in some measure to make amends 
to His Sacred Heart. He also promised to pour 
out abundantly the riches of His grace and bless- 
ings on all who should practise this devotion. On 
the 6th of February, 1765, Clement XIII. gave his 
sanction to this feast, which was soon celebrated 
throughout France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ger- 
many. Finally Pius IX. dedicated the whole Cath- 
olic Church to the divine Heart of Jesus. He 
also beatified the servant of God, M. M. Alacoque, 
who had been instrumental in propagating the de- 
votion, and who found in it the greatest delight of her 
heart, inflamed as that heart was with divine char- 
ity. " Would that I could relate everything," she 

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The Perpetual Adoration* 


was wont to exclaim, "that I know concerning 
this admirable devotion ! Would that it were given 
me to disclose -to all the world the treasures of 
grace which lie hid within the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus ! " 

Heart of Jesus, Victim blest, 
Whom the angels without rest 
Praise, adore, and glorify, 
Holy, holy, holy cry : 
Heart of Jesus, I will be 
Thine to all eternity. 

The Perpetual Adoration and Forty Hours' 

St. Ambrose says : " We now adore in the sacred 
mysteries that same flesh which the apostles wor- 
shipped in the person of Our Lord." 

In the first ages of Christianity some pious per- 
sons associated themselves together to keep up 
the worship of Our Lord without intermission. 
About the year 400 St. Alexander founded a mon- 
astery on the Euphrates and another in Constan- 
tinople with the same object, the monks being 
divided into choirs, who were to take turns in re- 
citing the divine office in the chapel by day and 
by night, whence the name of Acoemeta, or the 
Sleepless Ones, was given to them. Communities of 
this kind spread in France more especially ; the 
monks were divided into five, six, or seven choirs, 

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io8 The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. 

whose duty it was to keep up the perpetual worship. 
Abbot Angilbert (f 814) of St. Riquier, in Picardy, 
gave particular directions regarding this devotion. 
Later on a pious lady, Catherine de Bar, known as 
Mother Mechtilde of the Blessed Sacrament, formed 
a sisterhood of good women, who led an extremely 
ascetic life, and made daily reparation before the 
Adorable Sacrament for the sins and offences com- 
mitted by mankind. From the first house, which 
was founded in Paris in 1654, there were many off- 
shoots in different parts of France and in other 
countries, and this in spite of their strict life. In 
Switzerland there are a considerable number of 
smaller cloisters in which the perpetual adoration 
is kept up, as at Au, near Einsiedeln. 

In order to give Christian people living in the 
world an opportunity of taking part in this devo- 
tion, an association of the faithful was formed in 
the commencement of the sixteenth century in 
the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in 
Rome for the adoration and glorification of the 
Most Holy Sacrament. Paul III. gave his appro- 
bation to this association under the. title of Arch- 
confraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament, the ob- 
ject of which was to keep up the perpetual adora- 
tion. In Rome this devotion begins on the first 
Sunday of Advent in the Chapel of St. Paul in the 
Vatican, when the Pope himself exposes the Blessed 
Sacrament. Thence it is taken up by the other 
churches in turn, in each of which it lasts for forty 

Digitized by 

The Perpetual Adoration. 109 

hours. In the dioceses where the devotion has 
been introduced the year is divided among the 
several parishes ; during the night the perpetual 
adoration is carried on in religious houses. The 
devotion of the forty hours was originated in 
Rome in 1534, and was begun in Milan two years 
later, in memory of the forty hours during which 
Our Lord's body remained in the sepulchre. At 
first it was continued uninterruptedly, many indul- 
gences being attached to it ; later on the Holy 
See granted permission to continue it for three 
days at a time ; for this the three days of Carnival 
were specially set apart with the object of making 
reparation to almighty God for the sins and ex- 
cesses whereby that season was too often marked. 
The introduction of this devotion in general is 
mainly duly to the exertions of St. Philip Neri and 
St. Charles Borromeo. In Jesuit churches and 
colleges it is a standing custom. 

Digitized by 

TTbe ftols Sacrifice of tbe tones. 

The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar is also 
the perpetual sacrifice of the New Covenant. In 
it Christ Our Lord offers Himself up to His heav- 
enly Father by the hand of the priest under the 
appearance of bread and wine in an unbloody man- 
ner, as He offered Himself upon the cross with 
shedding of blood. 

Although this sacrifice is offered by the hand of 
the priest, he is not the real offerer, he is only a 
minister. It is Christ who is the Offerer ; He is at 
once both Priest and Victim. 

On Sacrifices in General* 

i. The act of sacrifice is an essential part of 
divine worship, for it is an outward sign of the 
homage that we owe to God as the Lord of heaven 
and earth, from whom all good things come, an 
acknowledgment of our subjection to Him, a recog- 
nition of His sovereignty over all things that He 
has created. " The earth is the Lord's and the ful- 
ness thereof." (Ps. xxiii. i.) 

This consciousness is inherent in all nations, and 

Digitized by 

On Sacrifices in General. 


therefore even heathen peoples offered sacrifices to 
their deities. By wholly or partially destroying the 
victim they signified their readiness to give it back 
to God, should He require it of them. 

Moreover, the act of sacrifice implies a confession 
of guilt, a perception that reconciliation between 
God and man is necessary. Thus victims were 
slain to obtain favors from God, or in thanks- 
giving for benefits received or answers to prayer. 
From the time of Abel's sacrifice, the first sacrifice 
of which there is any record, the custom of offer- 
ing sacrifices has been common to all religions. 
Among all nations, offerings of praise, sin-offerings, 
peace-offerings, and thank-offerings were made. 

The ceremonial of worship observed by the 
Israelites, the chosen people of God, was minutely 
prescribed by God Himself. The highest act of 
worship was the act of sacrifice. There were obla- 
tions of blood, such as oxen, sheep, goats, doves ; 
and bloodless ones, such as wine, milk, oil, flour, 
bread, incense. Flour and oil were called meat- 
offerings, wine and milk drink-offerings. A por- 
tion of the oblation was burnt upon the altar, the 
other, the major part, being consumed by the 
priests and those who offered the sacrifice. 

On the Sabbath Day two lambs and two measures 
of flour, besides a double measure of wine, were 
offered in the court of the tabernacle or temple ; 
and on new moons two calves, seven Umbs, one 
ram, with three measures of flour tj^evefy n&ft/tvtd J?*, 


Diked by GcSEMINARY 

H2 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

measures of flour to the ram, and one to each 

In addition to these, other days were marked by 
special sacrifices — the first, tenth, and fifteenth day 
of the seventh month — the special sacrifices being 
continued daily during a whole week from the fif- 
teenth day. The altar of incense stood within the 
temple itself ; upon this the choicest incense was 
burnt every day and nothing else was permitted to be 
burnt upon that altar. Precise directions were also 
given as to the sacrifices to be offered for individ- 
ual transgressions, and the oblations to be made 
for cleansing, the fulfilment of a vow, etc. 

2. The principal sacrifice of the Jews was the 
yearly offering of atonement on the fifth day of the 
seventh month. The high priest first offered a calf 
for himself and his own house, and a ram for a 
holocaust. Then two buck goats were brought ; 
one of these was slain for the sins of the people. 
Upon the head of the other the priest laid both his 
hands, confessing all the iniquities of the children 
of Israel, and all their offences and sins, and pray- 
ing that they might alight upon the head of the goat, 
which Was then led away into the desert. The 
calf and the other goat, which had been slaughtered, 
were, with their skin and flesh, to be burnt with 
fire without the camp. On this day a strict fast 
was kept from the evening of the preceding day 
until the evening of the same day, and the people 
were to "afflict their souls." (Lev. xvi. 31.) 

Digitized by 

"TEafee £C, anb eat, tbte iB Obv boby?. ©rtnfc tbc all of tbis for 
tbis is flDfi bloob."-/l>att. nvi. 26. 


" £rcept ion eat tbe fleeb of tbe Son of flDan anb brfnft bloob, 
2©u aball not bave life in sou."— 3obn vi. 54. 


Digitized by 


Reflection. — Our Lord Jesus Christ, in giving us 
as the food of our soul His own body and blood, His 
whole self, exhausts His power, so to speak, for He 
cannot bestow on us a gift greater than H imself . * 4 1 n the 
Eucharist," says St. John Chrysostom, 4, God has given 
us all that He is and all that He has." The blessed 
Eucharist may justly be cailed the sacrament of love, 
the pledge ot God's love for us. In its institution our 
divine Saviour manifested His ardent desire to be 
united with us, to dwell within us, since He gives Him- 
self to us as our food. He wishes to be united to us 
on earth, that we may be united to Him in heaven, for 
He makes holy communion the condition of reaching 
heaven. " He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My 
blood hath everlasting life. He that eateth this bread 
shall live forever. Except you eat the flesh of the Son 
of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in 
you." (John vi.) 

Practice. — Let us hunger after this bread of life; 
let us receive it in holy communion at least once a 
month, but let us do so always in a state of grace after 
a good preparation, and let us make a fervent thanks- 
giving after it. Were we to do this, we should not so 
easily relapse into sin, but would derive from this bread 
of the strong strength to conquer our passions and to 
lead a pure and virtuous life. 

Prayer. — O my Jesus, I have in the past so seldom 
and so coidly received Thee in holy communion. Give 
me an ardent desire for that heavenly food and the 
grace always to receive Thee worthily. O Mary, help 
me always to receive Jesus with a pure and loving 
heart, so that His body may be truly to me the pledge 
of eternal life. Amen. 

Digitized by 

Holy Mass Promised. 113 

All these ordinances prove that without shedding 
of blood no reconciliation with God was thought 
possible, and that the chief object of the sac- 
rifices was to keep alive a sense of sin among the 
Jews. "The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I 
have given it to you that you may make atonement 
with it upon the altar for your souls, and the 
blood may be for an expiation of the soul." (Lev. 
xvii. 11.) 

The Holy Mass Promised under the Old Dis- 

The children of Israel performed most carefully 
all the outward acts of divine worship prescribed 
by the law ; nor did they confine themselves to offer- 
ing the sacrifices of obligation, but made many free- 
will offerings to the Lord. For instance, at the dedi- 
cation of the temple, Solomon sacrificed no less than 
two and twenty thousand oxen and a hundred and 
twenty thousand sheep, and all Israel kept the 
feast with all solemnity for fourteen days. (3 
Kings viii. 63.) 

Yet as time went on the Jews fell into a fatal 
error. They thought that sin was remitted by 
the mere act of sacrifice, and that no conversion 
of heart, no inward sanctification was necessary. 
Consequently they sank deep into sin and iniquity, 
so that the Lord said to them by His prophets : 
" To what purpose do you offer Me the multitude 

Digitized by 

1 14 

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

of your victims ? I am full; I desire not holocausts 
of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, 
and lambs, and buck goats. Incense is an abomi- 
nation to Me ; the new moons, and the Sabbaths, 
and other festivals I will not abide ; your assemblies 
are wicked." (Is. i. n, 13.) "If you offer Me 
holocausts and your gifts, I will not receive them." 
(Amos v. 22.) 

On the other hand, the Lord announced by the 
mouth of the prophet Malachias that the sacrifices 
of the Old Testament were to be done away with 
and a new oblation substituted for them. " From 
the rising of the sun even to the going down My 
name is great among the Gentiles, and in every 
place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My 
name a clean oblation." (Mai. i. 11.) 

In these words it is distinctly foretold that when 
the sacrifices of the Old Testament should cease, a 
new sacrifice should take their place. This oblation 
is a clean, that is, a bloodless sacrifice, consequently 
a meat-offering. It is not offered once, like the sac- 
rifice of the cross, but in every place. This obla- 
tion is none other than the holy sacrifice of the 
Mass. The Mass is the only sacrifice which is 
offered in every place, for the Catholic Church 
alone extends over the whole globe. And foras- 
much as no other body of Christians has a sacrifice, 
no other body of Christians but the Catholic 
Church alone can claim to be the Church of 

Digitized by 




As the Blessed Sacrament under the form of 
food is foreshadowed under the Old Dispensation, 
so we find it also foreshadowed as a sacrifice. 

1. Melchisedech's oblation is one of the types of 
the Most Holy Sacrament, even as Melchisedech 
himself is a type of Christ. We read that this 
priest-king brought wine and bread to Abraham 
when he was returning from battle to refresh him 
and his followers. He blessed Abraham, saying : 
"Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who 
created heaven and earth : And blessed be the 
most high God, by whose protection the enemies 
are in thy hands." (Gen. xiv. 18-20.) 

In like manner Christ offers Himself to His 
heavenly Father in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, 
and by the hand of the priest blesses those who 
take part in this sacrifice. Thus David sang when, 
enlightened by the Holy Ghost, he foresaw and 
acknowledged the Son of God, the future Messias, 
to be the true high priest of the New Covenant : 
" The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent : 
Thou art a priest forever after the order of Mel- 
chisedech." (Ps. cix. 4.) 

2. Another and a very evident type is the pas- 
chal lamb, which was slain as a memorial of the 
exit of the Israelites from Egypt. Shortly before 
their exodus the Lord commanded a lamb to be 

Digitized by 

1 1 6 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

slaughtered, a male of one year without blemish. 
It was to be roasted with fire and eaten at night, 
no portion being left until the morning. The chil- 
dren of Israel were to eat it with loins girded, with 
shoes on their feet and staves in their hands. 
That night was the Phase, or Passover, for the 
destroying angel of the Lord went through the 
land of Egypt and slew every first-born, from man 
unto the cattle. But he passed over the houses of 
the Israelites, for the door-posts were sprinkled 
with the blood of the paschal lamb. (Exod. xii.) 
In commemoration of this event, every year, on the 
fourteenth day of* the first month, a lamb was to be 
slaughtered, a male free from all blemish. Christ 
is the paschal lamb of the New Covenant, sinless 
and spotless, through whose blood we are re- 
deemed, and who gives Himself to us for our 
nourishment in an unbloody manner. And as the 
paschal lamb was to be eaten with unleavened 
bread, so Christians must keep the Easter festival 
in stainless purity, obeying the exhortation of the 
Apostle : " Purge out the old leaven, that you may 
be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ 
our Pasch is sacrificed." (i Cor. v. 7.) 

Institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass* 

At the Last Supper Christ Our Lord not only 
gave Himself to His disciples to be eaten, but at 

Digitized by 

Institution of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 117 

the same time He offered Himself up to His heav- 
enly Father under the appearances of bread and 

1. The act Christ performed at the Last Supper 
was identical with that which He performed on the 
following day, excepting that it took place without 
shedding of blood. On the following day it was 
in all respects a sacrifice, as the Saviour Himself 
indicated when He said : " This is My body, which 
shall be given for you. This is My blood, which 
shall be shed for you." (Luke xxii. 19, 20.) 

2. With the words : " Do this for a commemora- 
tion of Me," He commissions His apostles to do 
that in future which He Himself did. Conse- 
quently they were not only to receive their Lord, 
but to offer Him in sacrifice. This is done in 
holy Mass, the priest being the instrument Our 
Lord employs to make the oblation of Himself to 
His heavenly Father. 

And truly Christ immolates Himself for us in 
holy Mass in the self-same body which He took of 
the Virgin Mary and which was sacrificed upon 
the cross. He thereby places His Incarnation, 
His life on earth, above all His death upon the 
cross, before His heavenly Father, beseeching 
Him to apply the fruits of this redemption to us 
whom He has redeemed, and to whom He also 
gives that same body, which was slain, for our spirit- 
ual sustenance. 

This sacrifice is therefore the same in substance 

Digitized by 

1 1 8 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

with that which was offered upon the cross ; it dif- 
fers from it only in the manner of offering and in 
the measure of its efficacy. 

On the cross the sacrifice was offered by the im- 
molation with the shedding of blood of the Paschal 
Lamb — Christ, that is, being put to a violent death, 
a death which He consented to undergo for love 
of God and man. But in holy Mass the sac- 
rifice consists not in a fresh immolation of the 
Victim, but in the renewal, without bloodshed, of 
the oblation of our Paschal Lamb, Christ the Lord, 
who was slain upon the cross and brought to life 
again by His Resurrection. In the sacrifice of the 
Mass Christ, by pleading for us, gives us a share in 
the divine graces which He merited for us pain- 
fully and efficaciously by the sacrifice of the cross. 

In the sacrifice of the cross Christ Our Lord 
purchased for us once for all the grace of redemp- 
tion. In the sacrifice of the Mass He dispenses 
this grace to each one of us individually, according 
to what we severally need and deserve. 

The sacrifice of the Mass does not in the least 
derogate from the value of the sacrifice of the 
cross ; on the contrary, it is its greatest glory, since 
from the sacrifice of the cross the sacrifice of the 
Mass derives all its dignity and all its efficacy. 

Digitized by 

The Vicarious Office of the Priest. 119 

The Vicarious Office of the Priest* 

In celebrating holy Mass the priest is the rep- 
resentative of Christ, for it is in virtue of His 
authority and by use of His words that the priest 
changes bread and wine into flesh and blood. 

1. The unworthiness of the priest who offers the 
holy sacrifice of the Mass does not in the slightest 
degree diminish its value, although the harm he 
does to his own soul is immeasurable. For the 
priest does not officiate in his own name, but in the 
name of Jesus Christ, and the sacrificial Victim is 
none other than Jesus Christ Himself, the beloved 
Son in whom the Father is well pleased. 

a. In celebrating holy Mass the priest is also 
the representative of the Church, for he offers 
Christ to our heavenly Father in the name of the 
Church, and he presents to Him the Church to- 
gether with Christ. Christ is the price paid for the 
Church's ransom, and the Church is Christ's mys- 
tical body. Therefore the Church can no more be 
separated from Christ than Christ can separate 
Himself from the Church. Now whatever the 
Church offers to God she offers to Him through the 
ministry of the priest. In holy Mass the Church 
offers to almighty God all the prayers and pious 
practices, all the conflicts and sufferings, of her 
children militant here on earth who are in a state 
of grace ; she offers besides all the patience, all 

Digitized by 

120 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

the longing desires, of her suffering children and 
all the merits, all the glory, of those of her children 
who are made perfect in heaven. 

3. Holy Mass is a sacrifice of praise, an ob- 
lation of homage and thanksgiving. Christ, in 
His office of High Priest, adores His heavenly 
Father. He came to earth in obedience to the will 
.of His Father in heaven, which He taught man- 
kind to fulfil upon earth. This adoration is in re- 
ality an act of thanksgiving, as we are told Our 
Lord " gave thanks " at the Last Supper before 
He broke bread. (Lukexxii. 19.) The Church gives 
expression to these sentiments pre-eminently in the 
Gloria, when she places these words on the lips of 
the priest : " Glory be to God on high, and on 
earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee, 
we bless Thee, we adore Thee ; we give Thee 
thanks for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heav- 
enly King, God the Father Almighty." 

The holy sacrifice of the Mass is also a peace- 
offering. It takes the place of the sacrifices of the 
Old Testament, which were also peace-offerings. 
David, at the time of the pestilence, erected an 
altar and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offer- 
ings that the plague might be stayed from the land. 
(2 Kings xxiv. 25.) So the Church addresses 
herself to the Father of heaven, beseeching Him 
to preserve us from all evils and to give us all 
things that are needful for the welfare of our souls 
and of our bodies. The priest says : " Mercifully 

Digitized by 

The Vicarious Office of the Priest. 1 2 1 

grant peace in our days, that by the assistance of 
Thy mercy we may be always free from sin and se- 
cure from all disturbance." 

The holy sacrifice of the Mass is a sacrifice of 
atonement. In it we receive grace to stir us to 
contrition and to penance, and thus we obtain par- 
don of venial sin and remission of the temporal 
punishment due to sin. For the holy Mass is the^ 
renewal of the sacrifice upon the cross of the 
Paschal Lamb, who taketh away the sins of the 

4. The holy sacrifice of the Mass is offered to 
God alone. This is a matter of course, for Christ 
offered Himself to none other than His heavenly 
Father, and there is no one else who can bestow 
upon us the graces we implore. Thus the celebrant 
says : " Accept, O holy Father, almighty, eternal 
God, this immaculate Host, which I, Thy unworthy 
servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God." 
" We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of sal- 
vation, beseeching Thy clemency that, in the sight 
of Thy divine majesty, it may ascend with the odor 
of sweetness, for our salvation and for that of the 
whole world." 

Consequently when the expression is used, "A 
Mass in honor of St. Joseph," or any other saint, 
we mean that we honor God in His saints, who 
have become what they are through His grace ; and 
also that we choose the saint in whose honor we 
have a Mass said as our particular patron and in- 

Digitized by 

122 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

tercessor. In this manner from the earliest times 
the names of some of the principal saints have been 
introduced into the canon of the Mass, before the 
consecration in fact, and immediately after the men- 
tion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, 
such as SS. Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, 
Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, 
Simon and Thaddeus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, 
"Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrys- 
ogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian. And 
after the consecration these are the names of the 
martyrs held in universal honor : John the Baptist, 
Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, 
Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, 
Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, and Anastasia. 

In honoring these we do the very thing David 
exhorts us to do when he says : " Praise ye the 
Lord in His saints." 

The Fruits of Holy Mass* 

The whole Church is benefited by the fruits of 
the holy sacrifice of the Mass, both the living and 
the dead, nay, even the angels and saints in heaven. 

1. The living profit by holy Mass inasmuch as 
by it they obtain all that furthers their salvation, 
all they hope for and ask of God. 

2. The departed gain the satisfaction made 

Digitized by 

The Fruits of Holy Mass. 


therein for their sins, the cancelling of their debt, 
and consequently release from purgatory and ad- 
mission into heaven. 

3. The angels and saints also profit by holy Mass, 
since their merits are united to the merits of the 
sacrifice of Christ, and God is thereby glorified. 
We also give thanks to almighty God for the graces 
and glory He has granted to the angels and saints ; 
and we spread devotion to them on earth by the 
grace we obtain to walk in their footsteps. 

It has, however, always been the belief of the 
Church that the holy sacrifice of the Mass could 
be applied to individuals. From the most ancient 
formularies we find that Mass used to be said for 
particular persons ; nor was it said once only, but 
repeatedly, for the self-same person and for the 
self-same intention. This is true of the departed 
above all, the holy sacrifice being celebrated for 
them not only on the day of death, but also on the 
third, the seventh, and the thirtieth day after, 
as well as on the anniversary of their demise. 
And from the foundation of the Church up to the 
present day it has been customary at any period of 
calamity, in time of pestilence, war, scarcity, 
earthquakes, and the like, to hold solemn public 
worship, of which the holy sacrifice of the Mass 
formed the central act. 

Those who benefit by the more special fruits of 
the holy sacrifice are : 

1. The priest who celebrates the Mass. The 

Digitized by 

124 The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

more worthy the priest the greater the graces he 
receives, for in every Mass he prays for himself. 

2. The person or persons for whom the Mass is 
offered, whether present or absent, and also those 
who desire to be prayed for in the Mass. The 
fruit of the holy sacrifice can be applied especially 
to the souls of the faithful departed, by way of in- 
tercession, since the Church, the stainless bride of 
Christ, turns to her divine Spouse, imploring grace 
and mercy for the holy souls which have been 
specially commended to her prayers. 

3. All persons who assist at the holy sacrifice. 
The Church expressly prays thus : " Be mindful, 
O Lord, of all here present, whose faith and devo- 
tion are known to Thee." Besides, by their 
presence at and the part they take in the holy 
sacrifice the faithful manifest their faith and 
their confidence in the help of God. " Every high 
priest taken from among men, is ordained for men 
in the things that appertain to God, that he may 
offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins : who can have 
compassion on them that are ignorant and that err : 
because he himself also is compassed with in- 
firmity." (Heb. v. 1, 2.) 

The holy sacrifice of the Mass must not, how- 
ever, and in fact cannot, be publicly offered for any 
who are not members of the Church.* Not only 

* Holy Mass cannot be offered for the intention of 
non-Catholics, nor can their names be given out in 

Digitized by 

The Fruits of Holy Mass. 

does this rule exclude unbelievers and the un- 
baptized, but also those who are known to be 
heretics and schismatics, consequently all adherents 
of any sect, or excommunicate persons. As they 
are cut off from the body of the Church, they can- 
not partake in the spiritual life of the Church. 

4. In the early ages of Christianity the faithful 
were accustomed to offer bread and wine at holy 
Mass for the celebration of the holy sacrifice ; at 
a later period they brought oblations of oil and 
articles of food as well, and money too, for the 
support of the priest. Later still the money used 
to be given to the priest in person, with the request 
that he would offer the holy sacrifice. Thus it 
was that the custom arose of giving the priest a 
stipend for the Mass. It is not in reality paying 
for the Mass, it is only a contribution towards the 
maintenance of the priest, and, as the Apostle tells 
us, the workman is worthy of his meat. The priest 
who takes money for Masses is bound under sin to 
offer them for the desired intention. 

public in the church to be prayed for. But this does not 
prevent Catholics from having Mass said for their non- 
Catholic relations or friends, whether living or dead. 
On the contrary, it is a great act of charity to do so. 

Digitized by 

f>olB Communion* 

The reception of the body and blood of Christ 
is called communion, which means union with 
another. In it Our Lord unites Himself to the 
soul. This union is intended to change, as it were, 
our being into the being of Christ ; to inform and 
animate us with the life of Christ, that is, with 
sanctifying grace and with divine charity, as He 
Himself tells us : " As the living Father hath sent 
Me, and I live by the Father: so He that eateth Me, 
the same also shall live by Me." (John vi. 58.) 

1. The obligation to receive holy communion is 
not merely an ecclesiastical precept, it is a divine 
command, for Our Lord says : u Amen, amen, I say 
unto you : Except you eat the flesh of the Son of 
man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life 
in you." (John vi. 54.) 

2. Nothing more is necessary, in order to com- 
prehend aright how infinite a treasure we possess in 
holy communion, than to observe the effects it 
produces in those who receive it in the spirit of 
Christ and with a holy longing to be united to 


Digitized by 

Holy Communion. 


Holy communion maintains and augments in us 
the love of God and sanctifying grace. 

We receive also, by actual grace, strength to 
practise all Christian virtue and perfection. 

Holy communion is the most effectual means of 
weakening the force of evil propensities and defend- 
ing us against temptation. We are cleansed from 
venial sin and preserved from mortal sin. By holy 
communion all Christians grow together into one 
spiritual body. The germ of immortality and the 
promise of a blissful resurrection are implanted in 
the body, and a pledge and foretaste of eternal life 
are given to us. Thus after the administration of 
holy communion the Church places these words 
on the lips of the priest : " O Sacred Feast, in which 
Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is 
renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge 
of eternal life is given to us." 

3. It stands to reason that a worthy communion 
alone produces these marvellous operations of 
grace in the soul ; the results of an unworthy com- 
munion on the soul of the sinner are awful indeed. 

Unworthy communion renders the soul still more 
unfit for the influence of divine grace. The con- 
cupiscences of the flesh are stimulated. The mind 
is darkened, the heart hardened. The soul is 
brought yet more under the dominion of the devil 
and we incur the penalty of everlasting death. 

The immense responsibility which the unworthy 
communicant takes upon himself is expressed by 

Digitized by L»ooQle 


Holy Communion. 

the Apostle in these words : " Whosoever shall eat 
this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord un- 
worthily: shall be guilty of the body and of the 
blood of the Lord." (i Cor. xi. 27.) 

4. In order to prevent such a sacrilege from 
being committed he adds the admonition : " But 
let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that 
bread, and drink of the chalice." (1 Cor. xi. 28.) 
The proving of one's self here spoken of consists 
in purifying one's self from mortal sin before ap- 
proaching holy communion. He who knows himself 
to be guilty of mortal sin must receive the Sacra- 
ment of Penance. It is not enough to be contrite 
on account of sin, however great one's contrition ; 
sacramental confession is indispensable if it can 
possibly be had. Furthermore, acts of faith, hope, 
charity, gratitude, humility, and fervent desire should 
be made. The more thoroughly the soul is cleansed 
and the more it is animated by true devotion 
the greater will be the effects of grace produced 
by holy communion. 

5. The Church commands that the person who 
is to receive the Blessed Sacrament must be fasting 
— that is to say, nothing at all must have been taken 
since midnight. Therefore if one has tasted even 
a few drops of water or any other beverage, or has 
eaten anything, even the smallest morsel of food, 
he must not go to communion that day. Excep- 
tion to this rule is only made in the case of those 
who are dangerously sick, to whom holy com- 

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Holy Communion. 


munion is given by way of viaticum. But sick 
persons generally who receive the Blessed Sacra- 
ment from devotion must take nothing beforehand, 
not even a drop of medicine. 

This rule, which St. Augustine tells us was 
universally observed in his day, and to the exist- 
ence of which the writings of Tertullian afford un- 
deniable testimony, was not laid down by the Church 
without good reason. Primarily it was intended to 
guard against the occurrence of scandals such as 
the Apostle Paul complains of in the first epistle 
to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. xi. 21.) It is, more- 
over, fitting that the Blessed Sacrament be received 
before any common food or drink has passed the 
lips. Finally, it is to show us that, in accordance 
with Our Lord's admonition, the Christian ought 
to seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. 

6. The outward man ought to correspond, by 
personal cleanliness, respectable clothing, and de- 
vout behavior, to the inward purity and reverence 
wherewith the Blessed Sacrament is to be received. 
We must go up to the holy table without gloves, 
our hands folded, our head bent down ; we must 
take the communion-cloth in our hand and hold it 
to our breast, then raise our head, at the same time 
casting down our eyes, open our mouth, slightly 
advance the tongue upon the under lip, close our 
mouth immediately after receiving the Blessed 
Sacrament, and swallow it reverently as soon as it 
is sufficiently moistened. 

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After communicating we should spend at least a 
quarter of an hour in prayer, adoring Our Lord, who 
is present within us, giving thanks to Him, offering 
ourselves to Him, and imploring His grace and 
blessing. The day of communion should be spent, 
as far as possible, in religious exercises and good 
works, and all gratification of the senses or amuse- 
ments of a dangerous tendency should be carefully 

Practical Application. 

When present at the holy sacrifice it is well to 
follow the Mass as far as one can, and unite one's 
self to the action of the priest, rather than to oc- 
cupy one's self with different devotions. Now the 
priest offers an oblation, recites prayers, and re- 
ceives holy communion, therefore the laity can 
and ought to do the same. As the priest offers up 
the Son of God in sacrifice for us, so the Christian 
ought to make an offering of himself, to adore the 
Word made flesh, and to receive the Blessed Sacra- 
ment. As, however, it is not possible to communi- 
cate sacramentally every time one hears Mass, we 
can at least communicate spiritually — that is to say, 
we can awaken in ourselves a desire, a fervent long- 
ing, for holy communion, and beseech Our Lord, 
who is present under the sacramental veil, to come 
and dwell in our hearts by His grace. This spirit- 
ual communion will receive its. completipn at the 

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The Worship of the Early Christians. 131 

conclusion of the Mass in the blessing given by the 

Spiritual communion can, moreover, be made 
without any limit as to place. When the bell 
which is rung at the consecration is heard the 
Christian can awaken in his soul the desire to re- 
ceive his Lord. The laborer in the fields, the 
artisan in the factory, the sick man on his bed of 
pain, each and all can say within themselves : 
" How happy should I be, O my Lord, if I could 
now adore Thee in Thy temple and receive Thee 
sacramentally ! But do Thou at least come and 
enter into my heart and abide with me, that the 
darkness may not gather round my soul. Gra- 
ciously hear me, be merciful unto me ! Amen." 

The Worship of the Early Christians, 

It can be clearly proved that the manner of cele- 
brating the holy sacrifice of the Mass was from the 
first in all essentials the same as it is now. The 
Apostle Paul writes : " We have an altar whereof 
they have no power to eat who serve the taber- 
nacle." (Heb. xiii. 10.) Now every one knows 
that in the Christian religion there is not, and never 
has there been, any sacrifice but the holy sacrifice 
of the Mass. 

Justin Martyr gives a description of the manner 
of celebrating Christian worship in his time ; " On 

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the prayers being ended the kiss of peace is ex- 
changed. Then bread, together with a cup contain- 
ing wine and water, is given to the bishop. Taking 
it in his hands, he gives praise and glory to the 
Father in the name of the Son and of the Holy 
Ghost, and recites an expressive prayer of thanks- 
giving for the gifts bestowed on us. At the con- 
clusion of this prayer the people answer aloud : 
Amen, i. e., so be it. Thereupon the ministers, 
whom we call deacons, distribute the bread, the 
wine and water, that has been consecrated by the 
giving of thanks, to all present, and they also carry 
it to those who are absent. This food we call the 
Eucharist ; none may partake of it except those 
who have been baptized for the forgiveness of sins 
and the inheritance of eternal life, and who live in 
accordance with the precepts of Jesus Christ. For 
we do not receive this as if it were common bread 
or common drink, but, as Jesus Christ by the word 
of God was made man, and took human flesh and 
blood for our salvation, so, we are taught, this food, 
which by change of substance is the nourishment 
of our spiritual life, through the command expressed 
in His words, becomes the body and blood of the 
God made man. For the apostles in their writ- 
ings, which are called the gospels, tell us that 
Jesus Christ commanded them to do what He did ; 
that, after He had taken the bread and given 
thanks, He said to them, Do this for a commem- 
oration of Me : this is My body. Likewise, after 

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The Worship of the Early Christians. 133 

He had taken the chalice and given thanks, He said: 
This is My blood, and gave it to them all." 

It is curious to observe how the very same pray- 
ers which the priest now recites at the altar are to 
be found in the most ancient liturgies or orders of 
divine worship. We will give a few prayers taken 
from the oldest liturgy, that of the apostle James, 
who for twenty-nine years was bishop of Jerusalem. 
They are as follows : " Send upon us and upon 
these Thy proposed gifts, Thy most holy Spirit, 
that, coming upon them with His holy and good 
and glorious presence, He may hallow and make 
this bread the holy body of Thy Christ, and this 
cup the precious blood of Thy Christ." 

At the breaking of bread, while the priest holds 
the one half of the sacred Host in his right hand 
and the other in his left, and dips in the chalice 
that which he holds in his right hand, he says : 
"The communion of the most holy body and blood 
of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
It hath been united and sanctified and accom- 
plished in the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever." The cele- 
brant then continues : " Behold the Lamb of God, 
the Son of the Father, sacrificed for the life and 
the salvation of the world." The thanksgiving runs 
thus : " We give Thee thanks, Christ Our God, 
that Thou hast vouchsafed to make us partakers of 
Thy body and blood for the remission of sins and 
eternal life." 

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134 Holy Communion. 

Hence it will be seen that the prayers appointed 
for the celebration of holy Mass in the early 
Church coincide not merely in their meaning, but 
in their very wording, with those in use at the 
present time ; thus they afford unquestionable proof 
of the truth of the Catholic doctrine concerning the 
holy sacrifice of the Mass. All sects, moreover, 
who have separated themselves from the Church, 
with the exception of Protestants, agree on this 
point with the Catholic Church. The Greeks and 
Russians, the Armenian, Syriac, and Chaldaic 
Christians all do so. They all prostrate themselves 
before their God hidden under the semblance of 
bread, and adore Him as their Lord. 

The Secrecy Observed in the Celebration of 
Holy Mass and the reproaches raised 
against the Early Christians* 

The early Christians took the greatest care to 
conceal the doctrine as well as the celebration of the 
holy mysteries from pagans and even from catechu- 
mens. This was done out of reverence and awe ; 
also as a precaution, to prevent the uninitiated and 
uninstructed from being present at divine worship, 
which would have given rise to misconceptions and 
brought down on them persecution. They were well 
aware that the teaching of the cross was unto the 
Jews a stumbling-block, unto the Gentiles foolish- 

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Secrecy Observed in Holy Mass. 135 

ness. Accordingly it was never mentioned in the 
presence of Jews or Gentiles, and even the cate- 
chumens who were desirous of being baptized, and 
who were admitted to Christian instructions, were 
obliged to leave the church after the first part of 
the Mass was ended, before the offertory. The 
doctrine of the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar 
and of the holy sacrifice of the Mass was not 
expounded to them until after their Baptism. On 
this subject St. Cyril of Jerusalem says : " When 
catechumens are present we do not speak of the 
holy mysteries in a manner that they can under- 
stand ; we are often compelled to make use of 
enigmatical language, which the faithful who are 
duly instructed will comprehend, but which awaken 
no suspicions in the mind of the uninstructed. M It 
certainly would not have been necessary to use 
these precautions had the matter in question been 
merely a commemorative feast, at which common 
bread and wine were partaken of. 

In spite of all it was impossible to prevent 
reports respecting the worship of the Christians 
becoming prevalent, that which took place being 
most grossly misrepresented. Terrible charges 
were brought against the Christians. It was alleged 
that they offered human sacrifices, drank the blood 
of their victims, killed and ate young children. 
The hatred felt for Christians grew to such a pitch 
that the Emperor Nero thought himself safe in 
burning Rome and accusing the Christians of the 

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136 Holy Communion. 

crime. The Christians themselves would endure 
any torture, or death itself, rather than raise the 
veil of mystery wherewith they shrouded their 
sacred rites. It is recorded in the Acts of the 
Martyrs that St. Blondina when questioned concern- 
ing the fabulous crimes attributed to the Christians 
gave as her only answer : " I am a Christian, and 
nothing shameful is done among us." In regard 
to the accusation of eating human flesh she said : 
" How can it be imagined that we should be guilty 
of such a crime, who from a spirit of mortification 
abstain from partaking even of ordinary meat?" 
How easily the Christians might have refuted these 
charges by saying : That of which we partake is 
nothing more than a little bread and a little wine. 
But this would have been considered an act of 
treachery, and they therefore held their peace, and 
allowed anything to happen to them rather than 
disclose the lofty mysteries of religion to the 
uninitiated. This necessity for concealment is the 
reason why so little is said by the early Christian 
writers about the holy sacrifice. 

The Requisites for the Celebration of Holy 

It stands to reason that in the most sacred act 
of worship every detail should be minutely ordained 
and determined, nothing being left to the discre- 
tion or pleasure of the minister. The commands 

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Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels. 137 

of the Church are precise and must on no account 
be overstepped. In the same manner under the 
Old Dispensation almighty God Himself gave 
instructions to Moses as to how everything was to 
be made ; not the temple itself alone, but also the 
sacerdotal vestments and the vessels to be used in 
divine worship. The third book of Moses contains 
these divine regulations. On this account it is 
called Leviticus^ the book of the Levites or ministers. 

Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels* 

The holy sacrifice of the Mass may only be 
offered upon an altar. Even the heathen perceived 
that it was meet to have a special place for sacri- 
fice and built altars ; these were certainly at the 
outset of the simplest description, mounds of earth 
or piles of wood. We read that after the deluge 
Noe built an altar unto the Lord and offered holo- 
causts upon the altar. (Gen. viii. 20.) Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob did the same. (Gen. xii. 7, xxvi. 
25, xxxi. 54.) In the temple at Jerusalem there were 
two altars of sacrifice : the altar of burnt-offering 
in the court, the altar of incense in the sanctuary. 

In his epistle to the Hebrews the Apostle Paul 
speaks expressly of the altar of the New Covenant : 
" We [Christians] have an altar whereof they have 
no power to eat who serve the tabernacle [the 
Jews]." (Heb. xiii. 10.) The first altars of the 

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Holy Communion, 

early Christians were nothing more than simple 
wooden tables. In the Church of St. John Lateran, 
where the head of St. Peter is preserved, the small 
wooden table upon which the prince of the apostles 
offered the holy sacrifice in the catacombs of 
Rome is enclosed within the high altar. In this 
same church may also be seen the table of cedar- 
wood on which Our Lord instituted the Most Holy 
Sacrament of the Altar. In order to escape from 
their pagan persecutors the early Christians were 
compelled frequently to change the place where the 
holy sacrifice was offered, so that it was only when 
the Church enjoyed peace that permanent altars 
could be thought of, of a less inartistic and more 
ornate description. Ecclesiastical rules were then 
drawn up to regulate the construction of the altar, 
as well as concerning the celebration of divine wor- 
ship in general. 

The altar-table must consist of a single slab of 
stone with a smooth surface. In the centre and at 
the four corners a cross, the four arms of which 
are of equal length, must be carved on it. Relics 
are placed in the altar as a memorial of the custom 
in the first ages of the Church of raising the altars 
over the tombs of martyrs. If there are several 
altars in one church the one which stands in the 
choir is called the high altar, the others are called 
side altars. It is of ancient usage in the Latin 
Church to have several altars in the house of God. 
In the catacombs of Rome there are chapels exca- 

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Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels. 139 

vated in the walls, containing two, three, or even 
more altars. The high altar is raised upon three 
steps to indicate that to the Triune God all glory 
and all sacrifice belong. The altar is consecrated 
by the bishop with special ceremonies ; this conse- 
cration does not always take place in the church ; 
more often a slab of stone is consecrated, in which 
relics are placed and sealed up, and which is 
anointed with chrism with the appointed prayers. 
This stone is afterwards let into the altar exactly in 
the centre, where the chalice stands and the Host 
is laid at the time of Mass. These altar-stones 
are sometimes enclosed in small tables, which can 
be folded up and are called portable altars. Mis- 
sioners make use of them when travelling on foreign 
missions, and army chaplains in the camp ; they 
are also employed when an immense concourse of 
people renders it necessary to erect an altar in the 
open air. 

A crucifix is to be set upon the altar, large 
enough to be visible from a distance, in order to 
remind the faithful that the same Victim is sacri- 
ficed here in a bloodless manner which was immo- 
lated to the Lord upon the cross with shedding of 
blood. On each side of the crucifix there must be 
at least one wax candle, both of which are lighted at 
Mass. For High Mass there must be at least four in 
use, and during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 
at least six lighted candles, for which reason six can- 
dlesticks stand, as a rule, on the high altar. The 

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Holy Communion. 

candles must be of pure beeswax, because wax is 
the purest combustible produced by nature ; their 
white color is significant of innocence. The light 
they shed is symbolical of the presence of Him who 
speaks of Himself as " the Light of the world." 

The altar must be covered with three linen 
cloths, one above another, to guard against desecra- 
tion of the precious blood, should the celebrant 
have the misfortune to let any drops fall. 

Three cards stand upon the altar : one, the larg- 
est, in the middle ; the others, one on the left, the 
other on the right side. The Church requires the 
priest to utter every word distinctly and according 
to prescribed rules, on account of which he always 
has the Missal before him and reads the prayers 
from it. On the altar-cards are inscribed certain 
prayers which he cannot read from the Missal 
without inconvenience. On the one in the centre 
are the Gloria, the Credo, the offertory prayers, 
the prayer before the elements are blessed, and 
Our Lord's words of institution, printed in large 
characters. The card on the epistle side contains 
the prayer when the water is blessed and the 25th 
Psalm, which is recited by the priest while he 
washes his fingers. The card on the gospel side 
contains the beginning of St. John's gospel, which 
is, as a rule, read at the conclusion of holy Mass. 
All this shows us how careful and conscientious 
the priest should be in clearly articulating every 
word of the Mass. 

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Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels. 141 

Upon the high altar stands the tabernacle, 
which is so called because it is the antitype of the 
Jewish tabernacle, the dwelling-place of God 
among men. "Behold the tabernacle of God 
with men, and He will dwell with them. And 
they shall be His people : and God Himself with 
them shall be their God." (Apoc. xxi. 3.) The 
tabernacle is the most sacred spot upon earth. It 
is the place where Christ miraculously dwells. It 
is the seat of uncreated wisdom, the glorious ark 
of the New Testament, the tower of strength, the 
abode of Him who is the pledge of salvation and 
of life eternal, the tent God pitches among men, 
the new heaven upon earth, whereat the angels 
gaze in amazement. 

Seeing this to be so, the greatest care ought to 
be expended upon the tabernacle, both as to the 
interior and the exterior. The exterior should be 
of artistic workmanship. One often sees it adorned 
with a design of corn and grapes, in gold or silver, 
to remind us of the appearances beneath which 
Our Lord is hidden. On each side of the taber- 
nacle are often figures of angels adoring, above it 
a pelican feeding her young with her own blood, 
while upon the door the paschal lamb is frequently 
represented. The interior ought to be draped 
with white silk or cloth of gold, a white linen cor- 
poral being spread out below. The key of the 
tabernacle ought to be gilt. In cathedrals the 
tabernacle is generally not upon the high altar, 

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Holy Communion. 

but on a side altar, because the bishop is frequently 
obliged to sit while performing episcopal functions 
at the high altar. 

Before the tabernacle the perpetual light must 
be kept burning. This lamp, which must be fed 
with a vegetable oil, is to show that on the altar 
before which it hangs the Light of the world is 
Himself present. 

The principal vessels used in the holy sacrifice 
are the chalice and the paten. The chalice is the 
cup for the sacrificial wine which is to be changed 
into the blood of Christ. The Jews made use of 
the chalice in their sacrifices, for David says : " I 
will take the chalice of salvation, and I will call 
upon the name of the Lord." (Ps. cxv. 4.) And 
of Our Lord it is said explicitly that having taken 
the chalice He said: "This is the chalice," etc. 
(Luke xxii. 20.) The rubric requires that no 
other vessel be used but a chalice, and that it 
should be made, if possible, of one of the precious 
metals. Pious Catholics have presented at all 
times to the Church valuable chalices of gold 
richly chased and adorned with jewels. Even in 
the poorest churches the chalices must be of metal 
and have a silver-gilt lining. The paten, also, a 
round plate upon which the consecrated Host is 
laid, must be of metal and gilt. The chalice may 
be regarded as an emblem of the sepulchre of Our 
Lord, and the paten as the stone placed at the 
entrance of the sepulchre. Both chalice and paten 

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Ecclesiastical Furniture and Sacred Vessels. 143 

must be consecrated by the bishop with chrism 
according to the form prescribed in the Pontifical ; 
a priest has not the power to consecrate them. 

The corporal, which accompanies the chalice, is 
a square linen cloth whereon the chalice stands 
and the Host rests. It is marked with a small 
cross on the upper surface, because the sacred 
Host must always be laid on the same spot. The 
corporal represents the winding-sheet wherein 
Christ's body was wrapped by Joseph of Arimathea. 
When not in use the corporal is kept in the burse, 
a case covered with the same material and of the 
same color as the chasuble. During Mass the 
chalice is covered with the pall, a small square of 
linen stiffened with cardboard, lest anything should 
fall into it. From the commencement of Mass 
until the offertory, and again after the communion, 
the chalice is covered with the veil, which also 
resembles the chasuble in color and material. For 
cleansing of the chalice and wiping the priest's 
hands after the communion the purificator, a small 
linen cloth, is used. In some places the priest, 
when taking a few drops of water from the cruet 
to pour into the chalice, makes use of a small 
spoon which is kept in the chalice at other times. 

Although the ciborium and the monstrance can- 
not be classed among the sacred vessels required 
for the celebration of holy Mass, we shall still 
speak of them here. The ciborium, or pyx, serves 
for the reservation of the sacred Hosts which are 

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required for communion, especially for the com- 
munion of the sick. This vessel must be of metal, 
the cup at least, and gilt inside. The Blessed 
Sacrament is in some places exposed to the venera- 
tion of the faithful in the ciborium during public 
prayers or the minor services of the Church, such 
as the Saturday devotions, etc. 

On the occasion of solemn expositions, or when 
the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession, the 
sacred Host is placed in a kind of shrine made for 
the purpose, and called a monstrance, because in 
it the Adorable Sacrament is shown to the people 
for their veneration. This is done, for instance, on 
the feast of Corpus Christi and during the exposi- 
tion of the forty hours. 

The Ecclesiastical Vestments* 

The priests of the Old Testament, when officiat- 
ing in their sacred functions, wore splendid vest- 
ments, of which the material, the shape, the color, 
the ornamentation, were minutely prescribed by 
God Himself. The priests of the early Church 
had not, perhaps, very gorgeous vestments, but they 
had special festive garments for their sacerdotal 
functions, because what has once been used in 
divine worship cannot be put to the ordinary uses 
of every-day life. At an early date the Church not 
only appointed the vestments that were to be worn, 

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The Ecclesiastical Vestments. 145 

but attached to each a mystic meaning. This could 
not be otherwise when the great dignity of the 
priest is considered, and the solemnity and sanctity 
of the act he is empowered to perform. The sev- 
eral vestments which the priest puts on for the 
celebration of holy Mass, and which must all be 
duly consecrated, are these : 

1. The amice \ or humeral, a linen cloth laid upon 
the shoulders in order to cover the neck. 

2. The alb, a tunic of white linen reaching from 
head to foot, such as was worn by the priests of the 
Old Law. (Ezech. xxviii. 4.) This denotes the 
innocence and purity that ought to distinguish the 
priest who ascends to the altar ; it also recalls the 
seamless coat for which the soldiers cast lots at 
the foot of the cross. It is held in round the waist 
by the girdle, which represents the cords wherewith 
Our Lord was bound. 

3. The maniple, once worn by all ministers, is 
now worn only by those who have received sacred 
orders, and in a much smaller size, so as to be a 
mere ornament. It is to remind the wearer that 
he must not shrink from arduous labors in the ser- 
vice of God. The maniple is of the same material 
and color as the chasuble. 

4. The stole was originally the uppermost gar- 
ment. It was white, embellished at the edge with 
a border of some other color. It is now only a 
narrow band, placed round the neck and crossed 
over the breast. Deacons wear it over the left 

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Holy Communion. 

shoulder ; subdeacons may wear the maniple, but 
not the stole. The stole is the distinctive mark of 
official authority, on which account a priest must 
not, except when saying Mass, wear it in the pres- 
ence of the bishop without express permission. It 
signifies the robe of original innocence which man 
lost at the fall. The priest must wear a stole when 
performing any ecclesiastical function, such as bap- 
tizing, marrying, hearing confessions, etc. 

5. The chasuble, the distinctive vestment for Mass, 
was originally a round cloak, with an opening 
through which the head was passed, the front part 
resting on the arms, so as to give the hands free 
play. As it covered the whole body, this vestment 
was called casula or chasuble (a hut). The shape 
being very inconvenient, the server was obliged, 
whenever the priest genuflected, to hold it up, 
whence comes the custom of raising the chasuble at 
the time of the consecration, although it is now of 
a more manageable form. The chasuble is intended 
to signify the sweet yoke of Christ (Matt. xi. 30), 
which the priest is bound to take upon him and to 
follow his Master. For this reason there is often a 
cross upon the back of the chasuble. 

When the deacon and subdeacon attend upon 
the priest at Mass they are vested in the dalmatic 
in place of the chasuble ; it is a festive garment 
formerly worn by persons of superior station, and 
brought from Dalmatia, whence the name dalmatic 
is derived. 

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The Ecclesiastical Colors. 147 

If any other priest besides the deacon and sub- 
deacon is in attendance upon the celebrant he 
wears neither chasuble nor dalmatic, but a cope. 
This vestment is also worn by the priest in other 
solemn functions, such as solemn vespers or pro- 
cessions of the Blessed Sacrament. 

When a bishop celebrates Mass he wears several 
things distinctive of his office. He has sandals, or 
particularly handsome shoes, for he is the preacher 
of the Gospel, and to him are applied the words of 
the Apostle : " How beautiful are the feet of them 
that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring 
glad tidings of good things." (Rom. x. 15.) He 
wears a ring, because he is espoused to the 
Church, of which he is one of the guardians ; he 
wears gloves to denote the force of his blessing. As 
a pastor of Christ's flock he carries a crazier, while 
the mitre, the head dress of a prelate, marks his 
supremacy over all the clergy who are subject to 

The Ecclesiastical Colors* 

From the time when vestments, as distinct from 
ordinary garments, were appointed to be used in 
divine worship certain colors were also fixed for 
them, varying with the day or season, as an out- 
ward sign of the sentiments that ought to inspire 
the worshipper. The Church makes use of five 
colors : white, red, purple, green, and black. 

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Holy Communion. 

White is the color of innocence and of joy. It 
is used on the feast of the Holy Trinity, on festi- 
vals of Our Lord, of the Blessed Mother of God, 
of the angels, and of all saints who are not mar- 
tyrs. Likewise at the consecration of a church, 
the ordination of priests, the consecration of 
bishops, and similar festivals. 

Red is the color of fire and of blood. It is the 
Holy Ghost who kindles the fire of divine love in 
the hearts of men ; accordingly red is used at 
Pentecost, on the feasts of the Finding and Exal- 
tation of the Holy Cross, the feast of the Five 
Wounds, etc. It is also used on the feasts of the 
holy apostles (with the exception of St. John), 
and of the holy martyrs, who shed their blood for 
the faith of Christ. 

Purple ', or violet, is symbolical of humility and 
penance. It is used in Advent and in Lent, on, 
ember-days (with the exception of the ember- 
days at Whitsuntide, which fall within the octave 
of Pentecost, when red is used), on vigils, for peni- 
tential processions, and on all occasions when a 
penitential spirit is required — for instance, in the 
administration of Extreme Unction and the Sacra- 
ment of Penance. 

Green betokens hope — the hope of eternal life, 
which Christ the Lord has once more brought 
within our reach. It is used on all Sundays and 
week-days from the octave of the Epiphany to 
Septuagesima, and from the third Sunday after 

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The Ceremonies of Holy Mass. 149 

Pentecost until Advent, unless the Mass is of some 

Black is the sign of mourning, and is used in 
Masses for the dead, on Good Friday, and All 
Souls' Day. 

Not unfrequently black vestments are embroid- 
ered with white. This is to signify that the holy 
souls in purgatory, for whom we pray, are in a state 
of grace, and are certain to be admitted to the 
joys of heaven when their period of expiation is 
at an end. 

The Ceremonies of Holy Mass* 

The service of the Mass is composed of a series 
of ceremonies, which precede the sacrificial act, 
accompany it, and bring it to a conclusion. These 
ceremonies are calculated to impress the faithful 
with a sense of the dignity of the holy sacrifice, 
to increase their devotion, to prepare them for sac- 
ramental or spiritual communion, that so they may 
receive more abundantly the fruits of the holy 
sacrifice, and may implore the divine mercy for 
this end. None of them are without significance ; 
all have a deep meaning, and no priest is allowed 
to deviate from them in the slightest degree, even 
to the very smallest detail ; one priest must do pre- 
cisely the same as another. For this reason the 
Missal contains the most minute directions, and 

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these every priest is bound to follow exactly by 
virtue of obedience. The Reverend Father Martin 
von Cochem, writing on this subject, says : " Six- 
teen times the priest signs himself with the sign of 
the cross. Six times he turns to the people. Eight 
times he kisses the altar. Eleven times he raises 
his eyes to heaven. Ten times he strikes his breast. 
Fifty-four times he folds his hands. Twenty-one 
times he bends his head. Seven times he bows 
down slightly. Eight times he bends low. Thirty- 
one times he blesses the elements with the sign of 
the cross. Twenty-nine times he lays both hands 
flat upon the altar. Fourteen times he prays with 
arms outstretched. Thirty-six times he prays with 
folded hands. Seven times he lays his joined 
hands upon the altar. Nine times he lays the left 
hand only on the altar. Eleven times he places 
his left hand upon his breast. Eight times he 
raises both hands to heaven. Eleven times he prays 
silently. Thirteen times he prays aloud. Ten 
times he covers and uncovers the chalice. Twenty 
times he moves from one side to the other of the 
altar. Besides these three hundred and fifty move- 
ments he has one hundred and fifty more cere- 
monies to observe ; and no less than four hundred 
rubrics have also to be followed. Every priest, 
therefore, who offers holy Mass according to the 
Roman rite has no less than nine hundred things 
to perform, whereof not the smallest or least im- 
portant must be neglected or omitted." 

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The Ceremonies of Holy Mass. iji 

The principal ceremonies are the sign of the 
cross, lifting up of the hands in prayer, raising the 
eyes to heaven, genuflecting, striking the breast, 
elevating the sacred Host and the chalice, and in 
solemn functions the use of incense. The sign of 
the cross reminds us of the sufferings and death 
of Our Redeemer, on which we rest all our hope 
for mercy, grace, and salvation. The Apostle tells 
us that in this sign should be our greatest happiness 
and glory : " God forbid that I should glory save 
in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ,, (Gal. vi. 
14.) The same Apostle admonishes his disciples 
to lift up the hands in prayer : " I will therefore 
that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands 
without anger and contention." (1 Tim. ii. 8.) 

In raising the eyes to heaven the example given 
by Our Lord is followed : " He took the five loaves 
and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He 
blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to His dis- 
ciples." (Matt. xiv. 19.) 

Again, when Christ took the deaf and dumb man 
aside He put His fingers into his ears, and spitting 
touched his tongue, and, looking up to heaven, He 
groaned and said to him, Ephpheta, which is : Be 
thou opened. 

Bending the knee was customary under the Old 
Dispensation. Esdras says of himself : " At the 
evening sacrifice I rose up from my affliction, 
and having rent my mantle and my garment, 
I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands to 

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the Lord my God." (i Esdras ix. 5.) And when 
St. Paul was departing from Miletus he called to- 
gether the ancients of the Church and gave them 
good admonitions, and " when he had said these 
things, kneeling down, he prayed with them all." 
(Acts xx. 36.) 

We read that the publican struck his breast, 
saying : " O God, be merciful to me a sinner." 
(Luke xviii. 13.) 

The elevating of portions of the victim was com- 
manded under the Old Law : " And taking out of 
the basket of unleavened bread, which was before 
the Lord, a loaf without leaven and a cake tem- 
pered with oil, and a wafer, he put them upon the 
fat and the right shoulder, delivering all to Aaron 
and to his sons. Who having lifted them up before 
the Lord, he took them again from their hands and 
burnt them upon the altar of holocaust. . . . And 
he took of the ram of consecration the breast for his 
portion, elevating it before the Lord, as the Lord 
had commanded him." (Lev. viii. 26-29.) 

The use of incense was also commanded by 
the Mosaic law : " Thou shalt make also an altar 
to burn incense, of setim-wood." (Ex. xxx. 1.) 
This altar was overlaid with the purest gold. 
(Ex. xxxvii. 26.) It was the lot of Zachary to 
burn incense upon the altar. In the revelations 
given to St. John the Evangelist he saw " an angel 
come and stand before the altar, having a golden 
censer ; and there was given to him much incense 

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The Language in which Holy Mass is Celebrated. 153 

that he should offer of the prayers of all saints 
upon the golden altar, which is before the throne 
of God. And the smoke of the incense of the 
prayers of the saints ascended up before God from 
the hand of the angel." (Apoc. viii. 3, 4.) The 
use of incense is symbolical of our prayers, which 
we desire to ascend as incense to heaven. At 
the same time incense is a fitting expression of the 
worship due to the most high God. 

The Language in which Holy Mass is Cele- 

Originally the apostles celebrated holy Mass in 
the language of the country where they preached 
the Gospel, in the vulgar tongue, that is, of the 
people. In apostolic times Greek was the language 
commonly spoken in Palestine, Syriac and Greek 
in Syria, where St. Peter first labored, Coptic or 
Greek in Egypt, and Latin in Italy. Hence we have 
Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Latin liturgies dating 
from the earliest ages of Christianity. But when, 
as time went on, these languages were altered or 
developed, the Church allowed no change in the 
language of her liturgies, but retained jealously 
these ancient, time-honored witnesses to her teach- 
ing, justly shrinking from any alteration, however 
slight. Thus it comes that in those countries in 
which Mass was originally said in the vernacular 

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the language then in use is no longer the vernacular. 
The missionaries who carried the Gospel to dis- 
tant lands introduced their own liturgy among 
their converts. Consequently in all countries the 
language of our liturgy is no longer the language in 
present use, but that formerly spoken by the 
people, and no longer understood by all. How- 
ever, it never occurred to any one to consider this 
as a defect ; on the contrary, the possession of the 
ancient liturgies was regarded as being of the 
greatest importance, as affording sure proof that 
the doctrine was preserved in all its purity. From 
Rome, the capital of Christendom, the Latin lan- 
guage spread to other lands, being brought by the 
Church's delegates to the nations which they sub- 
jugated to her sway. The advantages arising hence 
are obvious : 

1. It prevents the possibility of a different sense 
becoming attached to a word in the course of time, 
and disputes arising as to its true signification. 

2. Unity is the greatest treasure of the Church. 
The use of Latin in the Mass binds together all 
Christians who owe allegiance to Rome, and affords 
them what they most value, the opportunity of 
joining in the celebration of the holy sacrifice in 
whatever country they may be. If a German 
Protestant goes to England and attends the An- 
glican service, unless he understands English, 
he is completely at sea ; whereas the Catholic, let 
him go whithersoever he will, finds Mass celebrated 

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The Language in which Holy Mass is Celebrated. 1 55 

in exactly the same manner ; where there is a 
Catholic priest he is no stranger, and he feels 
himself at home in the church, whatever his country 
and his mother tongue may be. 

3. These words of the Apostle : " In the Church 
I had rather speak five words with my understand- 
ing, that I may instruct others also, than ten 
thousand words in a tongue" (1 Cor. xiv. 19), are 
often quoted against this usage of the Church. But 
from this very passage it is evident that the Apostle 
does not refer to the holy sacrifice of the Mass, 
since he only speaks of instruction, or preaching. 
Now sermons are everywhere delivered in the ver- 
nacular. Holy Mass is, however, no instruction, 
nor is it offered by the people, but the priest offers 
it for the people, and prays for the people, and it 
is by no means indispensable that they should 
understand every word he utters. Every Catholic 
knows what is going on, and can accompany the 
action of the priest with prayers of his own. He 
is familiar with the Mass, for he has been carefully 
instructed concerning it, and can follow it, uniting 
himself in spirit to the priest. Besides, prayer- 
books containing a translation of the Mass are 
within reach of every one. 

That in the passage quoted above from the 
epistle to the Corinthians preaching alone is re- 
ferred to is quite evident from the context. St. 
Paul goes on to give this admonition to the breth- 
ren : " When you come together, every one of you 

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hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, 
hath a [foreign] tongue, hath an interpretation : 
let all things be done to edification. If any speak 
with a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by 
three, and in course, and let one interpret. But if 
there be no interpreter, let him hold his peace in 
the church, and speak to himself and to God." 
(i Cor. xiv. 26-28.) In these words the Apostle does 
not prohibit speaking in other tongues when instruc- 
tion is given — he permits it, provided there be one 
present who can interpret, but only in moderation. 

Non-Catholic religious communities have no 
occasion to attack the use of the Latin language in 
the celebration of Mass. They have sermons, 
hymns, prayers for their adherents in the vulgar 
tongue ; the Catholic Church provides exactly the 
same for her children. Who is not acquainted 
with our beautiful prayers, our litanies, our hymns ? 
In addition to these, however, there is in the 
Catholic Church a sacred act of worship, which, in 
order to unite all the faithful around a common 
altar, is celebrated in a language with which most 
educated people are conversant. With parts of this 
service all the faithful are familiar. It is impossible 
for any one to deny that the Catholic has in the 
worship of his Church a treasure of far higher value 
than any other so-called Christian can boast. 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 

The priest who is about to celebrate holy Mass, 
prepares himself duly by the recital of certain pre- 
scribed prayers ; then having vested, he goes to the 
altar, his biretta on his head, and in his hand the 
chalice and the paten, on which is the sacrificial 
offering of bread in the shape of a wafer, both being 
covered with the veil. A server, who represents 
the people, walks before him, to serve the Mass. 
Originally clerks, i.e. clerics who had received minor 
orders, filled this office, but as the number of 
priests and of churches increased, and more Masses 
were said, the laity were admitted to serve Mass, 
boys being generally chosen, the preference being 
given to those who distinguished themselves by 
their piety and good behavior. 

On reaching the altar, the server takes the biretta 
from the priest's hand; the priest ascends the steps 
and places the chalice upon the altar. Standing 
with hands joined together before the middle of 
the altar, he calls to mind the intention for which 
he is going to offer the holy sacrifice, and the 
person to whom its fruit is to be applied. He 
then descends the steps, and commences the first 
or introductory portion of the Mass, at which in 
early times non-baptized persons might be present. 
This introductory part consists only of prayers and 
instructions — what was most wanted, therefore, by 

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those who were being prepared for reception into 
the Christian Church. 


The priest, standing at the foot of the altar, signs 
himself with the sign of the cross, saying: " In the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost." This is to show that all which he 
does is done to the glory of the triune God. 

He next recites the 42d Psalm, in which is for- 
mulated the desire for comfort and assistance in 
distress and affliction, as well as the confidence that 
they will be given. In the holy sacrifice of the 
Mass the afflicted will find their greatest consola- 
tion, their strongest encouragement 

But both priest and people are poor, weak, sin- 
ful mortals; accordingly the celebrant himself, and 
the congregation by the mouth of the server, make 
confession before God and all the saints of their 
sinfulness in the general confession (confiteor). On 
the prayers which are said at the foot of the altar 
being ended, the priest goes up to the altar, within 
which are some, relics, and lays his hands upon it. 
He prays for the forgiveness of sins through the 
merits of the saints, and in token of the love he 
bears them he kisses the altar, as the tomb where 
their remains are deposited. 


Going to the left side of the altar, the priest reads 
the introit) or entrance. This is generally a verse 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 159 

taken from Holy Scripture, expressing the senti- 
ments wherewith those who hear Mass should be 
animated on that particular day. A verse from 
one of the Psalms is added, emphasizing the one 
that precedes it. For instance, the introit for the 
first Sunday in Advent runs thus: " Unto Thee I 
have lifted up my soul ; O my God, in Thee do I 
trust ; let me not be put to shame, neither let 
mine enemies mock me ; for all they that wait 
for Thee shall not be confounded. Show me, O 
Lord, Thy ways, teach me Thy paths." To this is 
added the ascription of praise: " Glory be to the 
Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost ; 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall 

The priest returns to the middle of the altar, and 


(Lord, have mercy). This entreaty is addressed 
three times to God the Father (Kyrie eleison), three 
times to God the Son (Christe eleison), and three 
times to God the Holy Ghost {Kyrie eleison) y who 
is Lord together with the Father and the Son. 

The priest, although conscious of his sinfulness, 
confidently believes himself to have received the 
grace of forgiveness, and accordingly recites 


" Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to 
men of good will. We praise Thee, we bless Thee, 

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160 Holy Communion. 

we adore Thee, we glorify Thee, we give Thee 
thanks for Thy great glory, 0 Lord God, heavenly 
King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord Jesus 
Christ, the only-begotten Son; O Lord God, Lamb 
of God, Son of the Father, Thou who takest away 
the sins of the world, have mercy upon us ; Thou 
who takest away the sins of the world, receive our 
prayers; Thou who sittest at the right hand of the 
Father, have mercy upon us. For Thou only art 
holy; Thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Jesus 
Christ, art most high in the glory of God the 
Father. Amen." 

Thus the priest gives thanks to the triune God 
and adores His majesty. Turning to the people, 
he says : Dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with 
you). The people answer : Et cum spiritu tuo 
(And with thy spirit). The people pray that the 
priest may be enlightened, so that he may ask what 
is in accordance with the will of God. 


or orisons, follow next. Collect means collection, 
or gathering together ; the prayers of the faithful 
being collected and presented all together by the 
priest to God Almighty, in the hope that they will 
be heard and granted through the merits of Jesus 
Christ (per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum), 
through whom we receive all the blessings that are 
bestowed upon us. The collects, which often con- 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 161 

sist of several prayers, are recited at the left side 
of the altar. 


is then read — a portion of Scripture, taken from the 
Old Testament or from the writings of the apostles, 
containing some admonition or instruction. For 
this the people, in the person of the server, return 
thanks ; the words Deo gratias (Thanks be to God) 
being said at the conclusion. The priest returns 
to the middle of the altar and prepares to read 


He first prays for grace to proclaim it worthily 
and aright. The gospel (good tidings) is read at the 
right side, the epistle at the left side, of the altar, 
for the gospel declares the word of God Himself, 
while the epistle only publishes the words of His 
messengers. At the beginning of the gospel, which 
is preceded by the usual salutation, Dominus vobis- 
cum, both priest and people make the sign of the 
cross. The people stand up to signify their readi- 
ness to follow the teaching of Christ At the con- 
clusion the priest kisses the book, and the server 
answers : Laus tibt, Christe (Praise be to Thee, 
O Christ). 


The Creed, or Confession of Faith, is said on 
Sundays and many feasts, especially on the festivals 

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of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin. It is the 
profession of faith compiled at the Councils of 
Nice and Constantinople, and is recited by the 
celebrant to bear witness that he holds the same 
beliefs as the Doctors and Fathers of the Church. 
This closes the introductory part of the Mass, and 
the Mass proper begins. It has three divisions. 

I. The Offertory. 

The priest, standing at the middle of the altar, 
spreads out the corporal upon it, and taking the 
paten in his hand, he raises it a little and offers up 
the bread to almighty God, praying Him mean- 
while to accept this sacrifice for the forgiveness of 
his innumerable sins, offences, and negligences, and 
those of all faithful Christians, both living and 
dead, more particularly of those who are present 
at the Mass. The Host is then placed upon the 

The priest next pours wine into the chalice, 
mixing with it a small quantity of water. This 
mingling of wine and water signifies the union of 
the Godhead of Christ with His sacred humanity. 
It also reminds us of the blood and water which 
issued from the side of Our Lord. The priest ele- 
vates the chalice, as he did the paten with the Host 
upon it, and beseeches the eternal Father to accept 
and bless this oblation of the chalice. Then going 
to the epistle side, he washes his fingers, in order 
that the oblation of the bread, which he will have 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 163 

to touch, may not be defiled in any way : this cere- 
mony is likewise intended to denote the stainless 
purity of heart wherewith we ought to assist at the 
holy mysteries. Standing at the middle of the 
altar, the priest bows down, and again implores the 
Most Holy Trinity to receive this sacrifice in re- 
membrance of the Passion, death, and Resurrec- 
tion of Jesus Christ, in honor of Blessed Mary and 
of all the saints. Then turning towards the peo- 
ple, he calls upon them to pray with and for him, 
saying : 


" Brethren, pray that my sacrifice and yours may 
be acceptable to God the Father Almighty." The 
priest calls the people " brethren," as was custom- 
ary in the early Church, since all the redeemed are 
in reality the brethren of Jesus Christ. He makes 
use of the expression "my sacrifice and yours," 
because all who are present unite in offering one 
common sacrifice. 


or secret prayers, come next. They are the same 
in number as the collects before the epistle, and 
are in fact an amplification of them. These 
prayers have special reference to the subject 
brought before our minds by the festival of the 
day. For instance, the secreta for the feast of the 
Ascension is as follows : " Receive, O Lord, the 

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gifts which we lay before Thee in honor of the 
glorious Ascension of Thy Son, and mercifully grant 
that we may be delivered from present dangers, 
and arrive at everlasting life." As in all prayers, 
so in the secreta, the priest proffers his petitions in 
the hope that they may be granted through Jesus 
Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, who with 
the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reign- 
eth, world without end {per omnia scecula sozculorum). 

In view of the graces he hopes to receive, the 
priest gives praise and thanks to God, calling upon 
the angels to join with him in the jubilant strain, 
while he says to the people : Sursum cor da (Lift 
up your hearts). 

The people answer : Habemus ad Dominum 
(We have them lifted up to the Lord). 

The priest continues: Gratias agamus Domino 
Deo nostro (Let us give thanks to the Lord Our 

The people answer: Dignum et justum est (It is 
meet and just). 


are then recited by the priest. The preface is a 
hymn of praise. There are eleven different pref- 
aces; they vary according to the festival or season. 
The one generally said, the leading idea of which 
is the same as of all the others, runs thus: " It is 
truly meet and just, right and salutary, that we 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 165 

should at all times and in all places give thanks 
unto Thee, holy Lord, Father Almighty, ever- 
lasting God; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. 
Through whom the angels praise, the dominations 
adore, and the powers fear Thy majesty; the heav- 
ens also, and the virtues of the heavens, and the 
blessed seraphim glorify it in common exultation. 
With whom we beseech Thee that Thou wouldst 
command our voices also to be admitted in suppli- 
ant confession, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God 
of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Thy 
glory: hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that 
cometh in the name of the Lord: hosanna in the 

II. Canon of the Mass. 

The second principal part of the holy sacrifice 
of the Mass is the Canon, i.e., the rule according 
to which holy Mass is to be celebrated. It com- 
prises the part from the Sanctus to the Pater noster. 

The faithful have been duly prepared by confes- 
sion of faith and by prayer; the oblations have 
been presented, and now the priest beseeches al- 
mighty God to change the bread and wine into the 
body and blood of His Son. At the same time 
he prays for the Catholic Church, for the Pope, for 
the bishop, and particularly for the persons for 
whom the Mass is said, " whose faith and devotion 
are known (to God)." The intercession and help 
of the saints are also entreated: that is, of the 

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Blessed Virgin Mary, of the twelve apostles, and 
of twelve other saints, among whom are the early 
popes. " By whose merits and prayers God grant 
that we may be always defended by the help of 
His protection." 


The most solemn moment of all now comes. 
The priest extends his hands over the oblation, 
blessing the bread and wine three times, and then 
each species severally, saying: " Which oblation do 
Thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things to bless, 
sanction, approve, ratify, and make acceptable; 
that it may become to us the body and blood of 
Thy most beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Who, the day before He suffered, took bread into 
His holy and venerable hands, and having lifted 
up His eyes towards heaven to Thee, O God, His 
almighty Father, giving thanks to Thee, did bless, 
break, and give to His disciples, saying: Take, and 
eat ye all of this; for this is My body.** 

After pronouncing these words of consecration, 
the priest, kneeling, adores the sacred Host; he 
elevates it, so that it can be seen by the people, 
who likewise adore it; then placing it upon the 
corporal, he again genuflects, and proceeds thus: 
" In like manner, after they had supped, taking 
also this excellent chalice into His holy and ven- 
erable hands, and giving thanks to Thee, He 
blessed, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 167 

and drink ye all of this; for this is the chalice of My 
blood of the New and eternal Testament; the mystery 
of faith, which shall be shed for you and for many 
for the remission of sins. As often as ye do these 
things, ye shall do them in remembrance of Me." 

While pronouncing the last words the priest 
bends his knee, adoring the most precious blood 
of the Lord; he elevates the chalice, and again 
genuflects after he has replaced the chalice upon 
the corporal. 


The prayer of the priest and of the people has 
now been granted, and Our Lord is present upon 
the altar, as He was present with us during His 
life on earth, only now under the species of bread 
and wine. The priest prays that this great sacri- 
fice may be pleasing in the sight of God, and that 
as many as participate in it may be filled with His 
heavenly benediction. First of all he pleads for 
the holy souls, particularly those for whom he 
offers the holy sacrifice, " that the Lord may 
grant to them that rest in Christ, a place of re- 
freshment, light, and peace." Then, striking his 
breast, he prays for "us sinners"; he beseeches 
God to give us some part in the fellowship of the 
saints. "Into whose company we beseech Thee 
to admit us, not considering our merit, but freely 
pardoning our offences." 

While reciting these prayers the priest makes 

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the sign of the cross both on himself and over the 
body and blood of the Lord. Thereby he re- 
minds himself continually that the sacrifice of the 
Mass is a renewal of the sacrifice of the cross. 

At the conclusion of the Canon, the celebrant, 
taking the chalice in one hand and the sacred 
Host in the other, elevates them, as if he would 
lay the Son of God in the arms of His heavenly 
Father, for " through Him, and with Him, and in 
Him is to Thee, God the Father Almighty, in the 
unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory for 
ever and ever. Amen." Herewith the Canon, or 
second part of the Mass proper, ends. 

III. The Communion. 

The communion is the receiving of the body and 
blood of Christ ; it is the sacred feast of love. Be- 
fore consuming the consecrated elements the priest 
recites the PaUr noster; it is the giving thanks be- 
fore partaking of the feast of love. At the conclu- 
sion of the Pater he breaks the Host into three 
pieces, two larger and one smaller ; the latter he 
puts into the chalice containing the precious blood. 
The breaking of the Host is to signify that Christ 
was broken, i.e., slain for us upon the cross. The 
mingling of the two elements of bread and wine 
denotes that the body and blood belong to one an- 
other, and that after Our Lord's Resurrection His 
blood was reunited to His body. " May this mix- 
ture and consecration of the body and blood of 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass, 169 

Our Lord Jesus Christ be to us that receive it 
effectual to eternal life. Amen." 

The priest then implores mercy of the divine 
Lamb, the Victim upon the altar. He strikes his 
breast three times, saying : " Lamb of God, who 
takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon 
us." This he repeats three times, the last time end- 
ing with the words " give us peace," for peace 
with God and man is the greatest of all mercies. 

Before the priest ventures to consume the body 
and blood of the Lord, he prays that this partici- 
pation may not turn to his judgment and condem- 
nation, but may be to him a safeguard and remedy 
both of soul and body. Then taking the Host in 
his left hand, he strikes his breast three times, say- 
ing, in the words of the Roman centurion : " Lord, 
I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under 
my roof ; say but the word, and my soul shall be 
healed." Blessing himself with the two halves of 
the sacred Host, he says further : " May the body 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to life 
everlasting. Amen." 

After receiving the Lord's body, he genuflects, 
saying: "What shall I render unto the Lord for 
all He hath rendered unto me? I will take the 
chalice of salvation, and call upon the name of the 
Lord. Praising, I will call upon the Lord, and I 
shall be saved from my enemies." Then, making 
the sign of the cross upon himself with the chalice, 
he says : " May the blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ 

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Holy Communion. 

preserve my body and soul to life everlasting. 

A little wine is then poured into the chalice — not 
the slightest portion of the sacred species should be 
left, — and after this has been consumed by the 
priest, wine and water are poured over his fingers. 
While taking these ablutions, he says : " Grant, 
O Lord, that what we have taken with our mouth 
we may receive with a pure mind ; and of a tem- 
poral gift it may become to us an eternal remedy." 
" May Thy body, O Lord, which I have received, 
and Thy blood which I have drunk, cleave to my 
bowels ; and grant that no stain of sin may remain 
in me, who have been refreshed with pure and holy 

As before the offertory a verse from the Psalms 
formed an introduction to the holy sacrifice, so this 
third part of the Mass closes with a passage taken 
from Holy Scripture. 


Again the priest turns to the people with the sal- 
utation: "The Lord be with you" (Dominus vobis- 
cum 9 and with the words: Oremus (Let us pray), in- 
vites them to give thanks with him for the graces 
they have received. These acts of thanksgiving 
are of the same number as the petitions before the 
epistle. Afterwards he turns again to the people, 
and announces to them : fte, missa est (Go, the 
Mass is ended). The server answers • Deo gratias 

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The Ceremonial of Low Mass. 171 

(Thanks be to God), and the priest blesses the 
people in the name of the almighty and triune 

In conclusion, the beginning of St. John's gospel 
is read. When a feast falls on a Sunday, the gospel 
of the feast is read before the Credo, and the gospel 
for the Sunday at the end of the Mass. At the 
close of the gospel the server does not answer : 
Laus tibi, Christe, as before, but Deo gratias, for 
he gives thanks for all the graces that have been 
given in the holy sacrifice. 

In Advent and Lent, and on all the days when 
purple vestments are worn — the rogation-days, for 
instance — the Mass is slightly altered. The Gloria 
is omitted, because the sentiments suited to the 
day are those of contrition rather than of joy. For 
the words lie, missa est, Benedicamus Domino (Let 
us bless the Lord) are substituted, because at such 
times the devotions of the faithful ought to be pro- 

In Masses for the dead the Gloria is naturally 
omitted, and Requiescat in pace (May they rest in 
peace) is said in the place of Itc % missa est. The 
Benediction is also omitted. 

Pontifical Masses vary in some points from the 
ordinary Mass, to mark the greater dignity of the 
celebrant. The most noteworthy difference is that 
the bishop, as the successor of Our Lord, does not 
address the salutation Dominus vobiscum to the 
faithful the first time, but employs the words Christ 

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Holy Communion. 

spoke to the apostles when He appeared to them 
after the Resurrection : Pax vobis (Peace be with 
you). When giving the benediction at the close of 
Mass he makes the sign of the cross upon the peo- 
ple three times ; when High Mass has been cele- 
brated, he wears his mitre and holds the crozier 
while giving the blessing. 

The devout Catholic should endeavor to follow 
the service of the Mass throughout as closely as 
possible. He should present his petitions with 
those of the priest, give thanks when the priest 
gives thanks, adore when the priest adores, cross 
himself when the priest makes the sign of the cross, 
and do all to the glory of God and of His holy 

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XLbc Sacrament of penance, 

Through the mercy and loving- kindness of Our 
God it is not merely in holy Baptism that we have 
the means of regaining the divine grace which was 
lost at the fall ; in His compassion He stretches out 
to us a helping hand to enable us to rise up again 
when, after Baptism, through human frailty we 
commit sin* A healing bath is provided for us 
that we may wash away in the blood of Christ the 
stains we have contracted and may be again rec- 
onciled with God. This is done in the Sacrament 
of Penance. 

The Sacrament of Penance is that sacrament in 
which the priest, as God's representative, remits our 
sins, provided we have heart-felt sorrow for them, 
make a sincere confession, and form a true pur- 
pose of amendment and satisfaction. 

i. By penance is understood in Scripture the 
change of evil and perverse dispositions and a 
corrupt manner of life, and consequent amend- 
ment. This is what is otherwise called conversion. 
" Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise 
perish." (Luke xiii. 3.) 

Under penance is also understood the punish- 

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1 74 The Sacrament of Penance. 

ment which we inflict upon ourselves to expiate 
the sins we have committed, and thereby manifest 
our repentance before God. Thus St. Peter said to 
Simon the magician : " Do penance from this thy 
wickedness." (Acts viii. 22.) 

Penance consists first and foremost in this, that 
the sinner should be conscious of and acknowledge 
or confess his sins. Recognition of sin and avowal 
of sin is the foundation of all real conversion. 

2. Remission of sin is promised by God to all who 
are truly penitent. " Let the wicked forsake his 
way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him 
return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon 
him, and to Our God : for He is bountiful to for- 
give." (Is. lv. 7.) 

3. Although no mortal man, but God alone, has 
power to forgive sins, yet God has vouchsafed, in 
order to comfort and reassure the penitent sinner, 
to grant this forgiveness of sins through His repre- 
sentative, and to endow this representative with 
supernatural powers. For this reason He gave to 
the apostles and their successors the power to for- 
give sins. On the very day of His Resurrection, 
on the evening of Easter day, He appeared to 
His disciples, when the doors were shut, and com- 
missioned them to carry on the work which His 
Father had sent Him to accomplish, saying : " As 
the Father hath sent Me, I also send you. When He 
had said this, He breathed on them, and He said 
to them : Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins 

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The Sacrament of Penance. 175 

you shall forgive, they are forgiven them : and whose 
sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John xx. 

The apostles and disciples were in this wise ap- 
pointed judges, and power was given to them to re- 
tain or remit sins. They were not merely authorized 
to declare that God would remit sins, they were 
actually to remit them. And for as much as not 
only did the faithful commit sin in the days of the 
apostles and first disciples, but at all times sin is 
committed as the consequence of human frailty, 
this power abides permanently in the Church, being 
granted to the successors of the apostles. 

4. In the Sacrament of Penance all sins can be 
remitted, however numerous and however heinous 
they may be, provided only that the conditions under 
which absolution can be given, sincere sentiments 
of contrition on the part of the sinner, are not want- 
ing. " If the wicked do penance for all his sins 
which he hath committed, . . . living he shall live, 
and shall not die. I will not remember all his in- 
iquities that he hath done." (Ezech. xviii. 21, 22.) 

Thus no man need despair of forgiveness. The 
greatest of sinners can have recourse to his Re- 
deemer in the Sacrament of Penance. " There 
shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth 
penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need 
not penance." (Luke xv. 7.) 

5. In the Sacrament of Penance we also obtain 
remission of the penalty due to sin which we can- 

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176 The Sacrament of Penance. 

not ourselves expiate here, i. e., the eternal punish- 
ment. Oftentimes the temporal as well as the eter- 
nal penalty is remitted, in part at least. Further- 
more the merit of good works, lost through mortal 
sin, is recovered. "God is not unjust, that He 
should forget your work, and the love you have 
shown in His name, you who have ministered and 
do minister to the saints." (Heb. vi. 10.) 

Moreover, together with sanctifying grace we re- 
ceive actual grace to enable us to persevere in 
amendment, consolation, strength, peace, and joy 
of heart in the Holy Ghost. 

The Sacrament of Penance is also beneficial, and 
the frequent reception of it is much to be recom- 
mended to those who are not guilty of mortal sin, 
because through it the soul acquires an increase of 
grace and is made capable of greater perfection. 

6. The Sacrament of Penance is indispensable to 
the forgiveness of mortal sin. For this sacrament is, 
among all other means of grace, the one principally 
appointed to restore those who have fallen, to the 
state of grace. On this account the Fathers of the 
Church call it the second plank after the shipwreck, 
by means of which every one, even be he burdened 
with many and grievous crimes, can be rescued from 
the whirlpool of mortal sin as from a shipwreck, 
and reinstated in the grace and friendship of God. 

And as God does not require of man more than 
he is able to perform, and there are cases in which 
it is absolutely impossible to receive the Sacrament 

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** TKflboBe Bir\3 sou eball torsive, tbev. arc forgiven tbem, ano wboge 
sine sou eball retain, tbev. are retained. "—Jobn n. 23. 


"Ubs ems are forgiven tbee."— lufte vii. 47. 


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Reflection. — Baptism cleanses the soul from orig- 
inal sin and from all actual sin previously committed. 
For the remission of the sins committed after Baptism 
our divine Saviour, in His infinite mercy, instituted the 
Sacrament of Penance, and made the priests of His 
Church the judges of the sins of men, when He breathed 
on His apostles, saying : 44 Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; 
whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; 
whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John 
xx. 22, 23.) We must confess our sins, that the priest 
may know what sins we have committed, whether we 
are sorry for them and firmly resolved to avoid them, 
and to repair the injury we have done, so that he may 
thus be able to judge whether we are really deserving 
of pardon. "If we confess our sins," says St. John, 
44 God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to 
cleanse us from all iniquity." (1 John i. 9.) 

Practice. — Let us not live in mortal sin even for a 
single day, lest death overtake us unawares in that 
fearful state. If we have the misfortune to fall into a 
grievous sin, let us at once go to confession, lest we 
die in it and be lost. We ought to go to confession as 
often as may be necessary to preserve us altogether 
from falling into mortal sin, for the Sacrament of 
Penance is also a preservative against sin. 

Prayer. — O my God, I should have long ago been 
condemned to hell for my sins ; but in Thy excessive 
mercy Thou givest me the Sacrament of Penance as a 
means of securing pardon, of escaping the torments of 
hell and of recovering my claim to heaven as Thy 
friend and Thy child. I thank Thee for this priceless 
favor, and I am resolved to profit by it. O Mary, 
obtain for me the grace always to make a good and 
sincere confession that will secure my pardon. Amen. 

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The Sacrament of Penance, 


of Penance, in such cases mortal sin may be purged 
away by an act of perfect contrition and the pur- 
pose of confession as soon as this shall be possible. 
Hence if there is no priest at all within reach, the 
sick man, or one who is suddenly carried off by a 
fatal accident, will not die without forgiveness of 
sin if he has the dispositions which render him 
deserving of forgiveness. But if he who has been 
justified by an act of perfect contrition should fail 
to carry out his purpose of confession when oppor- 
tunity offers, he would be guilty of another and a 
mortal sin. 

7. In order to obtain forgiveness the sinner must 
prepare himself carefully for the reception of the 
Sacrament of Penance. He must be thoroughly 
possessed by a penitential spirit. 

a. He must be conscious of his sinfulness, and, 
in as far as is possible, recognize and acknowledge 
each individual transgression. This is penance of 
the understanding. 

b. He must feel sorrow for and detestation of 
his sins — penance of heart. 

c. He must have a firm purpose of ceasing from 
sin — penance of the will. 

d. He must confess his sins to a duly author- 
ized priest — penance of the lips. 

e. He must make satisfaction for the sins he 
has committed — penance of deed or action. 

Thus five things are requisite for the due recep- 
tion of the holy Sacrament of Penance: Examina- 

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178 The Sacrament of Penance. 

tion of conscience, contrition, purpose of amend- 
ment, confession, satisfaction. To one who is 
thus well prepared the Church grants absolution. 

Examination of Conscience. 

1. In order to attain the grace of penance and 
amendment of life it is before all things necessary 
to be rightly acquainted with our own spiritual 
condition, that we may not deceive ourselves. Be- 
fore approaching the sacerdotal tribunal we must 
judge ourselves, so that we may be able to accuse 
ourselves and may not esteem ourselves better 
than we are. Of this self-judgment the Apostle 
says: "If we would judge ourselves, we should not 
be judged." (1 Cor. xi. 31.) 

The greatest danger for a man is to think himself 
without sin and without need of penance. Hear 
what the apostle says on this point: "If we say 
that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the 
truth is not in us." (1 John i. 8.) 

If we would attain to a knowledge of our spirit- 
ual state we must examine our conscience — that is, 
we must consider whether our thoughts, desires, 
words, and works are in accordance with the com- 
mandments of God and of the Church. But " who 
can understand sins?" (Ps. xviii. 13.) This is not 
so easy a task as many imagine. Examination of 
conscience is a serious, a momentous concern on 

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Examination of Conscience. 


which very often the validity of the confession 
depends, and for which we need the assistance of 
supernatural grace. Above all, therefore, we must 
implore the Holy Spirit to enlighten us; without 
Him we can do nothing, consequently without Him 
we cannot perceive or repent of our sins. As Holy 
Scripture says: " The Spirit also helpeth our infirm- 
ity." (Rom. viii. 26.) 

Let us place ourselves in the presence of God, 
remembering that though we may deceive ourselves 
and our fellow-men, yet we cannot deceive God. 
Then let us listen to our own conscience, which 
will not fail to accuse us if we do not stifle its voice. 

2. As we have to begin from our last confession 
it is necessary, in the first place, to ask one's self 
whether the last confession was a valid one; that is 
to say, whether our conscience was properly exam- 
ined, whether we awakened in ourselves contrition 
and purpose of amendment, whether our confession 
was sincere, whether any injury we may have done 
to our neighbor was made good, and property 
unjustly acquired was restored. If forced to ac- 
knowledge that our previous confession was invalid, 
we must go back to the last good one. Then we 
must examine our conscience in a fixed order. The 
best rule is to go through the ten commandments 
of God, the five precepts of the Church, the seven 
deadly sins, etc. In doing so it is well to pause at 
each commandment and think in what place, in the 
company of what persons, about what occupation 

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180 The Sacrament of Penance. 

one may have done wrong. Particular attention 
should be paid to the duties of one's position, e.g., 
those of a husband, a father, the master of a house- 
hold, an official, a guardian, etc. To help one's 
memory one may take an examination of conscience 
such as is found in almost every good prayer-book. 
Only, one must guard against two things: against 
the confession of sins of which one is not guilty, 
because they are in the book, and, on the other 
hand, against the omission of anything that one 
has done, not counting it to be a sin because it is 
not one of those enumerated in the form of exami- 
nation. The use of no form, even the best, can 
dispense us from searching into our own heart. 

3. We must examine our conscience carefully 
and diligently. It would be negligence on the part 
of any one who was not in the habit of going 
frequently to confession were he only to examine 
his conscience for a few moments before confession. 
The best plan is to examine one's self at least the 
evening before. For the matter of that, no devout 
Christian goes to rest without having made an 
examination of conscience. 

Our examination should be made without alarm 
and anxiety. The Sacrament of Penance is a source 
of consolation, and confession ought not to be a 
misery to us. The holy Council of Trent says ex- 
plicitly : " It is certain that in the Church nothing 
else is required of penitents but that after each has 
examined himself diligently, and searched all the 

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folds and recesses of his conscience, he confess 
those sins by which he shall remember that he has 
mortally offended his Lord and God ; while the 
other sins, which do not occur to him after diligent 
thought, are understood to be included as a whole 
in that same confession ; for which sins we con- 
fidently say with the prophet : From my secret sins 
cleanse me, O Lord." (Sess. 14, 5.) 

It is most useful for us to ascertain whether we 
have gone forward or backward since our last con- 
fession. Have we done the former, we shall be en- 
couraged to proceed on the same path; if the lat- 
ter be the case, it will show us the danger in which 
we are, and the contrition that fills us will be all 
the deeper. For we must always keep before our 
minds this truth : that there is no standing still in 
the spiritual life ; to stand still is equivalent to go- 
ing back ; he who does not grow better grows 


Among all the things that appertain to a worthy 
reception of the Sacrament of Penance, contrition 
holds the foremost place. It consists in grief of 
soul for sins committed, with a purpose of sinning 
no more. According to the decision of the Coun- 
cil of Trent contrition includes not merely cessa- 
tion from sin and a resolution to begin a new life, 
but more than all a detestation of the old manner 

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1 82 The Sacrament of Penance. 

of life, as Holy Scripture says : " Cast away from 
you all your transgressions by which you have trans- 
gressed, and make to yourselves a new heart and a 
new spirit." (Ezech. xviii. 31.) 

It does not suffice, therefore, to recite an act of 
contrition from one's prayer-book before going to 
confession, without thinking much about it ; or, 
after having made one's confession, merely to add: 
" For these and all my other sins I am heartily 
sorry." Contrition must come from the soul, for with 
the soul we have sinned. The Psalmist indicates 
this in the words : " A sacrifice to God is an afflicted 
spirit ; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, Thou 
wilt not despise." (Ps. 1. 19.) 

1. Such contrition as this is the only real con- 
trition, even though it be not attended by any ex- 
traordinary external manifestations of grief. Tears 
and lamentations are not invariably tokens of a 
genuine repentance, for we may quote the words of 
the prophet when he said : " Rend your hearts 
and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your 
God." (Joel ii. 13.) 

2. Contrition must be universal and supreme. It 
would profit us nothing were we to repent of all our 
sins with one single exception, because by the com- 
mittal of this one sin alone we equally have given 
proof of our disobedience and ingratitude towards 
God. " Whosoever shall keep the whole law, but 
offend in one point, is become guilty of all." (James 
ii. 10.) 

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Contrition must be supreme, because the good 
lost through sin is infinite in magnitude, none other 
than God Himself. " The Blessed and only Mighty, 
the King of kings and Lord of lords." (1 Tim. 
vi. 15.) 

3. True contrition arises from supernatural mo- 
tives. Natural sorrow for sin has no value in God's 
sight. It is only natural that the sinner should 
repent of this sin which has brought evil conse- 
quences upon him. The spendthrift is sorry for his 
extravagance when he finds himself in destitution, 
having squandered all he possessed. He who has 
ruined his health through his excesses, he who has 
thus incurred disgrace and shame, loss or punish- 
ment, may well feel remorse for what he has done. 
If evil-doers could undo the effects of their evil 
deeds, they might learn to be more careful, but 
they would never correct themselves. Not only 
would they not be better men, they perhaps would 
not even be wiser. 

There are three principal motives of contrition : 
the fear of God, gratitude towards God, and the 
love of God. 

Contrition arises from the fear of God if we sor- 
row for sin because we have thereby angered and 
offended God, our just, omniscient, and almighty 
Judge, and because we are conscious that we have 
thereby deserved, and shall receive, temporal and 
eternal punishment. 

Contrition arises from gratitude if we sorrow for 

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184 The Sacrament of Penance. 

sin because we have thereby shown ourselves un- 
thankful towards God, Our Creator, Redeemer, 
Saviour, and Sanctifier, who has conferred on us 
benefits so numerous and so great, and because we 
have rendered ourselves unworthy of these benefits 
and of all future ones. 

Such contrition as this, arising either from fear 
or from gratitude, is supernatural contrition. Out 
of consideration for the frailty of our human nature, 
it suffices for the forgiveness of mortal sins, pro- 
vided to it be added the hope of pardon and pur- 
pose of amendment, and the penitent approaches 
the Sacrament of Penance. For although such 
contrition certainly is supernatural, yet it is imper- 
fect, and is of itself insufficient, unless the Sacra- 
ment of Penance is received. 

Perfect contrition, which, when a man is de- 
barred from the privilege of receiving the holy 
Sacrament of Penance, purges from mortal sin, is 
that contrition which arises solely from the love of 
God. If we grieve for our sins only because we 
have offended and outraged God, in Himself most 
great, most glorious, most deserving of our love — 
the Supreme Good — then our contrition is worthy of 
God, and perfect, for this reason, that it is free from 
all selfish considerations and is concerned only with 
God and His perfections. This perfect contrition 
avails men before the Sacrament of Penance is re- 
ceived to cancel mortal sin, and reconcile the 
sinner with God, if it is accompanied with the 

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resolution to receive the Sacrament of Pen- 

1 . All supernatural contrition, imperfect as well 
as perfect, is a grace which we receive from God, and 
which we must implore with fervent prayer, as did 
David when he said : " Cast me not away from Thy 
face, and take not Thy holy Spirit from me." (Ps. 
1. 13.) The action of the Holy Ghost alone, in 
the light of faith, can make known to us the reason 
why we should be sorry for our sins ; it alone can 
awaken within us deep contrition of heart and pro- 
duce a complete conversion of will. 

2. In order to evoke within ourselves supernat- 
ural sorrow for sin, we need only consider seriously 
how terrible an offence it is against God. The 
people of Israel had transgressed against God, and 
Jeremias the prophet thus expresses the greatness 
of their offence : " Be astonished, O ye heavens, at 
this, and ye gates thereof be very desolate. . . . 
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living 
water." (Jer. ii. 12, 13.) 

Sin is, moreover, an act of shameful ingratitude 
towards God, who has lavished upon us the gifts of 
His grace ; so much so that He may justly address 
to* every human soul these words : " What is there 
that I ought to do more to My vineyard that I 
have not done to it ? Was it that I looked that it 
should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth 
wild grapes ?" (Is. v. 4.) But punishment soon 
overtakes the sinner, for the Lord proceeds to say: 

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1 86 The Sacrament of Penance. 

" Now I will show you what I will do to My vine- 
yard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it 
shall be wasted; I will break down the wall thereof, 
and it shall be trodden down. And I will make it 
desolate; it shall not be pruned and it shall not be 
digged; but briers and thorns shall come up ; and 
I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon 
it." (Is.v.5,6.) 

Such is the fate of every soul that despises God. 
God withdraws His grace from it, which is to the 
soul what rain and dew from heaven are to the 
vineyard. All the merits hitherto accumulated are 
swept away by sin ; all that we have done for 
heaven is completely lost. Divine grace is trans- 
formed into divine displeasure, divine wrath. " If 
the just man turn away from his justice, and do 
iniquity. ... all his justices which he hath done 
shall not be remembered." (Ezech. xviii. 24.) 

And just as we are bereft of all the merits which 
we have earned for heaven, so, while we are in a 
state of sin, we are utterly unable to acquire merit. 
The Passion and death of Christ profit us noth- 
ing ; we cease to be heirs of the kingdom of 
heaven ; the bliss of heaven no longer exists for 
us. We are enslaved by the devil, and hell is our 
portion. The serious consideration of all these 
truths cannot fail to awaken contrition within us, if 
only imperfect contrition. This imperfect contri- 
tion will, however, rise to the higher degree of per- 
fect contrition if we ponder the infinite love of the 

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i8 7 

Father, who desires nothing more earnestly than 
that we should find our happiness in Him; who gave 
up His own Son for our salvation ; who for His own 
sake, for the sake of His perfections, His charity, 
His goodness, so richly deserves our love. The 
consideration of all these facts will arouse within us 
that sorrow of soul which we call by the name of 
perfect contrition. 

3. We must rouse ourselves to contrition if we 
have formed the purpose of going to confession, 
for it constitutes the principal condition for its due 
reception. Confession is valid v so long as contri- 
tion is awakened before the priest gives the abso- 
lution. Accordingly if, from force of habit or for 
any other reason, a man goes to confession without 
having previously made an act of contrition, and 
yet is moved to contrition by the words addressed 
to him by the priest, that man's confession is valid. 
But if sorrow for sin only comes after the abso- 
lution has been pronounced, the confession is in- 
valid and must be made over again. 

Perfect contrition must not only be awakened in 
us if one is in danger of death, but whenever we 
have the misfortune to commit sin and cannot at 
once go to confession. For it is dangerous to live 
in mortal sin, not only because one who is in a state 
of wrath can do nothing for heaven and for his 
own salvation, but also because the uncertainty of 
human life exposes him continually to danger 
of death, and were he to die suddenly without 

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1 88 The Sacrament of Penance. 

confession and absolution he would be lost for- 


We find in Holy Scripture instances of true and 
false repentance. Esau repented having sold his 
birthright for a pottage of lentils, and he gave vent 
to his sorrow in loud cries. But it was no true 
contrition that he felt, for God permitted him to 
be defrauded of his father's blessing also. The 
Apostle says: " We know that afterwards, when he 
desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected: 
for he found no place of repentance, though with 
tears he had sought it." (Heb. xii. 17.) Saul 
acknowledged that he had done wrong in regard to 
David, and said aloud before all his men-at-arms : 
" I have sinned ; return, my son David, for I will 
no more do thee harm." (1 Kings xxvi. 21.) Yet 
he continued to entertain ill feelings towards David. 
Antiochus' eyes were opened when he was smitten 
by God with an incurable and grievous disease; he 
promised to make everything good, he even wrote 
to the Jews and made humble apologies. Yet it is 
said of him : " Then this wicked man prayed to 
the Lord, of whom he was not like to obtain 
mercy." (2 Mach. ix. 13.) 

David, on the other hand, affords an example of 
true penitence. He confesses, " My days are van- 
ished like smoke, and my bones are grown dry like 
fuel for the fire. I am smitten as grass, and my 

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Purpose of A mendment. 1 89 

heart is withered: because I forgot to eat my bread. 
Through the voice of my groaning, my bone hath 
cleaved to my flesh. ... I have watched, and am 
become like a sparrow, alone on the housetop. . . . 
I did eat ashes like bread, and mingled my drink 
with weeping, because of Thy anger and indigna- 
tion." (Ps. ci. 4-1 1.) Peter went out and wept 
bitterly. (Matt. xxvi. 75.) Magdalen is the pat- 
tern of a sinner, who repents of her sin out of 
pure love of God, and therefore merits to have 
these consoling words said of her : " Many sins are 
forgiven her, because she loved much." (Luke 
vii. 47.) " The sorrow that is according to God 
worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the 
sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Cor. vii. 

Purpose of Amendment* 

The determination to correct one's self and 
change one's life is the necessary fruit of true con- 
trition. Purpose of amendment is therefore its 
inseparable accompaniment. Like the Prodigal 
Son, the soul says within herself : " I will arise and 
will go to my Father." (Luke xv. 18.) 

1. Since the purpose of amendment has its 
source in true contrition, it follows that if that 
purpose be genuine it will possess all the charac- 
teristics of true contrition. Like the latter, it must 
extend to all sins committed, and thus be compre- 

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190 The Sacrament of Penance. 

hensive or universal ; it must spring from super- 
natural motives ; moreover the sinner must not rest 
satisfied with forming a resolution, he must carry it 
out, just as the Prodigal Son did not rest inactive 
by the side of his swine, but actually returned to 
his father. 

2. It is not enough to make a general resolu- 
tion to lead a changed life for the future. The 
purpose must be definite if it is to be effectual. 
One must propose to one's self to avoid some par- 
ticular sin of which one has been guilty. The re- 
pentant sinner will shun the person who has been 
his accomplice in sin, and break off the acquaint- 
ance by which he has been ensnared. The man 
who cannot keep within the bounds of moderation 
in drink will keep away from the tavern altogether. 
He will no longer frequent the company of those 
by whom he is drawn into strife, roused to anger, 
and led to use bad language. He will most care- 
fully beware of everything which may be to him a 
proximate occasion of sin. It is no sign of strength, 
but rather of weakness, in a man if he thinks that 
a good resolution alone will enable him to with- 
stand a temptation to which he has often suc- 
cumbed. For God does not promise the assistance 
of His grace to those who of their own free will 
expose themselves to danger. The son of Sirach 
warns such persons that " he that loveth danger 
shall perish in it." (Ecclus. iii. 27.) 

On the other hand, one who is really penitent 

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will make use of the means which Our Lord ap- 
pointed to enable man to preserve sanctifying 
grace. He will especially examine himself dili- 
gently, and observe at what time and in what place 
temptation is likely to assail him, and so be before- 
hand in averting the danger. And since no man 
can know what he may have to encounter in the 
course of the day, let him fervently pray, as Our 
Lord taught His disciples to pray : " Lead us not 
into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matt, 
vi. 13.) 

3. A good purpose of amendment also includes 
the desire to remove all scandal that one may have 
given, to repair any harm one may have done, 
whether to a man's property, by any kind of injus- 
tice, or to his reputation, by detraction or calumny. 
Nor ought one to delay in making reparation, for 
every day adds to the weight of guilt and responsi- 
bility. Sick people in particular ought not to trust 
to their heirs to act for them after their death ; 
they ought themselves to do all they can for their 
soul's safety, remembering the words of Our Lord : 
" Thou shalt not go out from thence, till thou 
repay the last farthing." (Matt. v. 26.) 


In order to receive the Sacrament of Penance, it 
is not enough to repent of our sins ; confession is 
needed to complete contrition. Now confession 

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192 The Sacrament of Penance. 

is not the simple acknowledgment of our mis- 
deeds, it is accusation of ourselves in the presence 
of a priest duly appointed by the Church, with the 
object of obtaining forgiveness of sins through the 
power of the keys. Confession is not an avowal 
of our evil deeds for the purpose of self-glorifica- 
tion, but of self-humiliation on account of them. 

2. As our contrition must extend to all mortal 
sins, so all mortal sins must be included in our 
confession. They must be enumerated singly, even 
the most secret ones, even those which we have not 
committed in deed, but only in desire. For evil 
desires, which are prohibited by the ninth and 
tenth commandments, are also sinful and deserving 
of punishment. It often happens, the Roman 
Catechism tells us, that these evil concupiscences 
wound the soul more deeply than those through 
which men are accustomed freely and openly to 
offend against God. 

It would be an insufficient and consequently an 
invalid confession were any one merely to accuse 
himself thus : I have sinned in thought, word, and 
deed, and by the omission of good works. Or, 
again, if one were to make his confession in this 
way : I have broken the first commandment, I have 
broken the second commandment, and so on. For 
as each commandment forbids several sins, and 
these often of a very different nature, such a con- 
fession would be almost meaningless. For in- 
stance, the fifth commandment forbids murder, 

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manslaughter, quarrels, strife, excesses of all kinds, 
giving offence, and the like. A confession so 
vaguely worded would entirely miss its aim, be 
cause the priest could make nothing of it. 

2. It is equally necessary to mention how 
often a sin has been committed. For the de- 
gree of carelessness and of malice can best 
be estimated by the greater or less number 
of times the sin has been repeated. In the 
same way it may be ascertained whether the 
soul is in more or less danger, and the sinner him- 
self cannot have a thorough knowledge of his spir- 
itual state until he perceives of how many imper- 
fections, defects and sins he is obliged to confess 
himself guilty. Then indeed he feels the neces- 
sity of making his peace with God. In the words 
of David he exclaims : " If Thou, O Lord, wilt 
mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it?" (Ps. 
cxxix. 3. ) 

Unfortunately it often happens, especially in re- 
gard to habitual sins, that the number cannot be 
given. In this case the penitent must do the best 
he can. A careful examination of conscience will, 
however, enable us to ascertain how far we are en- 
slaved by this habit of sin, so that we can form at 
least a proximate idea of the number of our trans- 
gressions. In this case there is always reason to 
fear lest our confession be faulty. The best means 
of guarding against the danger is to go frequently 
to confession. For the sake of the completeness of 

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194 The Sacrament of Penance. 

one's confessions, if on no other grounds, they ought 
not to be made at long intervals. 

The circumstances under which the sin was com- 
mitted should also be explained, those more espe- 
cially which aggravate the offence. They must be 
explained if they change the nature of the sin. For 
instance, it is a much greater transgression to steal 
from a poor man than to rob a rich man ; it makes 
a great difference whether one steals bread under 
pressure of want, or takes fruit merely out of greed- 
iness ; whether one wilfully and of set purpose 
calumniates a man who has done one no harm, or 
if, carried away by anger, one makes use of abusive 
expressions in regard to those who have acted 
towards us in a hostile manner ; whether one has 
applied scurrilous epithets to individuals who are 
not related to one, or to one's own parents ; 
whether one has conducted one's self with undue 
familiarity towards unmarried or married persons, 
or towards any one who is consecrated to God. 

Confession must be entire and direct, and also 
couched in fitting language. It is unnecessary to 
repeat in the confessional all the abusive language, 
the oaths one may have uttered. This would be by 
no means a proof of sincerity. A confession made 
in a spirit of supernatural contrition is in itself sin- 
cere. If such be the disposition of the penitent, 
he will feel no inclination to excuse himself or his 
misdeeds ; on the contrary, he will say with the 
Psalmist : " I have acknowledged my sin unto Thee, 

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and my injustice I have not concealed." (Ps. 
xxxi. 5.) 

3. It is undoubtedly an act of self-conquest to 
reveal to another man, a sinner like one's self, the 
most secret recesses of the heart, to discover to 
him all the sins of which one is one's self ashamed, 
and submit one's self to his judgment. But what 
the natural man cannot do is not beyond the power 
of one who is strengthened by supernatural grace. 
There are, besides, natural reasons which should 
induce us to lay aside all timidity, and as we were 
not ashamed to sin, so now not to be ashamed to 
confess our sin. For (a) it is in itself a cause of 
thankfulness that the Lord Our God has not given 
us an angel for our judge, but a fellow mortal, laden 
with the same infirmities as ourselves, subject to 
the same temptations, compelled to wage the same 
warfare. The priest knows well how frail is human 
nature, and on this account he is the fitting repre- 
sentative of Christ: " The bruised reed he shall not 
break, and smoking flax he shall not extinguish." 
(Matt. xii. 20.) 

b. The priest is pledged to observe the strictest 
secrecy concerning all that is confided to him in 
confession. Even to the penitent himself not the 
slightest allusion may be made out of the confes- 
sional to what has been said in it. A priest who 
should venture to repeat anything told him in con- 
fession would have his faculties withdrawn and be 
severely punished, Many priests (e.g., St. John 

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196 The Sacrament of Penance. 

Nepomucene), when endeavors were made to force 
them to reveal the secrets of the confessional, have 
chosen rather to lay down their lives than break 
the seal. Is it not wonderful, considering how 
many millions of priests have heard confessions, 
that not a single case has ever occurred in which 
the seal of confession has ljeen broken? Even 
priests who have fallen into mortal sin have so 
shrunk from violating this solemn seal that no one 
has ever been known to be guilty of this crime. Is 
not this a marvellous grace attached to this sacra- 
ment ? God Himself provides against any abuse 
being made of it. 

c. Without confession there can be no absolu- 
tion, and without sacerdotal absolution on earth 
no remission of sins in heaven. " He that hideth 
his sins shall not prosper; but he that shall con- 
fess, and forsake them, shall obtain mercy." (Prov. 
xxviii. 13.) 

d. All men will one day be summoned to appear 
before the tribunal of God, and everything which 
is not forgiven will be made manifest ; the sins 
which have not been confessed will be brought to 
light and seen of all men. These words of the 
Apostle Paul will then be fulfilled : " In the day 
when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus 
Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. ii. 16.) 
Then holy penitents will appear in the sight of the 
whole universe clad in stainless garments which 
have been cleansed in the laver of penance, while 

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those who have concealed their sins will wish to 
sink into the earth in order to hide their wicked- 
ness from the eyes of men. How much better it is 
to confess to the priest than to be put to shame 
before all one's friends and acquaintances ! " For 
there is nothing hid which shall not be made man- 
ifest; neither was it made secret but that it may 
come abroad." (Mark iv. 22.) 

4. Confession ought not, however, as has already 
been said, to be a misery for the penitent It is in- 
tended rather to comfort and to tranquillize the 
conscience. The sinner will be invigorated by the 
spiritual medicine prescribed for him by the con- 
fessor ; the wounds of his soul will be healed. The 
exhortation addressed to him by the priest will lift 
up him who is bowed down. The priest receives the 
repentant sinner as the father received the Prodigal 
Son, with unbounded loving-kindness ; and the more 
sincere the sinner the more kindly he is received. 
This is why the priest — although he really pro- 
nounces a judicial sentence — is called a father, not 
a judge. 

5. If the penitent unintentionally omits some 
sin in confession, although he has diligently exam- 
ined his conscience, his confession is not on that 
account invalid. He must, however, mention the 
sin in his next confession if it is a serious one. But 
one mortal sin wilfully omitted vitiates the whole 
confession, for it is made without true compunction, 
without purpose of amendment and of reparation. 

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198 The Sacrament of Penance. 

The penitent must not only go over this invalid 
confession again, and confess all the sins he has 
since committed, but he must also accuse himself 
of all his subsequent communions, as they have all 
been made unworthily. This not unfrequently 
proves a difficult task, but it is indispensable. It is 
also very useful to make a general confession of 
one's past life, not only for the sake of making good 
any confessions that may have been defective, but 
for a thorough conversion. It is especially advisa- 
ble for those who are entering upon a new state 
of life — who are about to be married, for instance. 
By thus passing in review all the sins of one's whole 
life at once, one will be moved to deeper contrition, 
and feel urged to resolve upon leading an entirely 
new life. 

6. Devout persons who frequently receive holy 
communion, are often at a loss to find matter for 
confession, as they are watchful over themselves, 
and through their good will are preserved from sin 
by God's grace. Such persons should confess some 
sin of their past life; this practice is most useful 
for obtaining remission of sins and thus procuring 
greater peace of conscience. 

Since the priest is pledged to the strictest secrecy 
in confession, the penitent should likewise know 
how to observe silence. He should beware of ever 
telling anything out of his confession that might 
discredit the priest or bring the Sacrament of Pen- 
ance into odium or contempt, or be the cause of 

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The Form of Confession. 


annoyance to any one. The confessor cannot say 
a word in his own defence, because of the sacred- 
ness of confession; moreover, any one who is so 
little in earnest as to prate about his own confes- 
sion is quite capable of falsehood and misrepresen- 
tation. To listen to the confessions of another 
would be malicious, hateful, and blasphemous curi- 
osity; and to repeat a sin that one had overheard 
would be a sacrilegious injury to the reputation of 
one's neighbor. 

The Form of Confession* 

Any one purposing to go to confession will do 
well to betake himself in good time to the church, 
so that he may not be hurried over the proximate 
preparation, but may go tranquilly through the pre- 
liminaries: invocation of the Holy Ghost, examina- 
tion of conscience, acts of contrition and sorrow, 
prayer for forgiveness, etc. When this preparation 
has been duly made, let him go up to the confes- 

If there are several persons waiting to go to con- 
fession, let him go near enough to the confessional 
to pass in immediately when the person kneeling 
there comes out, that time may not be lost in going 
to and fro. Care must, however, be taken not to go 
too close, else what is being said in the confessional 
might be overheard. On kneeling down in the con- 
fessional let him cross himself, and say: " I confess 

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200 The Sacrament of Penance. 

to almighty God, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to 
all the saints, and to you, father, that since my 
last confession (which was so many weeks or 
months ago) I have committed the following sins." 
Then let him confess his sins in a low tone of 
voice, so as to be understood by the priest, but not 
heard by any one outside. Having accused him- 
self of all that he can remember, let him conclude 
thus: " For these and all the sins of my past life I 
am heartily sorry and ask pardon of almighty 
God and of you, my ghostly father." 

Then let him listen attentively to the instructions 
of the confessor. Should the latter have occasion 
to ask any questions, these must be answered simply 
and truthfully. While the priest is speaking, the 
penitent must not keep thinking whether he has said 
all he had to say, but must pay the greatest atten- 
tion to the words addressed to him. When the priest 
gives the blessing, one should make the sign of the 
cross; and after the words "Go in peace" have 
been spoken, leave the confessional and go to his 
place, moving as noiselessly as possible, to avoid 
disturbing other people. Nor should he hurry home, 
but in recollection and quiet make acts of faith, 
hope and charity, give thanks to God, make resolu- 
tions for the future, and let it be seen by his con- 
duct that the grace of God has not been void in 

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Auricular Confession. 


Auricular Confession* 

There is no institution in the Catholic Church 
which her foes regard with such hatred as the self- 
accusation and confession of sin that are requisite 
for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance. 
Not only do they deny that this rule is of divine 
appointment, but they impudently assert it to have 
been introduced by Pope Innocent III. in the year 
1 2 15, at the fourth Lateran Council. The ene- 
mies of the Church contemptuously term this con- 
fession, made to a duly ordained priest, auricular 
confession, although no confession, whether general 
or particular, can be heard otherwise than with the 
ears : and for what purpose is confession made if 
not to be heard ? The necessity for the confession 
of individual sins will be proved incontestably by 
what follows. 

1. Our Lord gave to His apostles and their suc- 
cessors the power not only to loose, but also to 
bind ; not only to remit sins, but also to retain 
them. The confessor has no right to act arbi- 
trarily, saying to one, you are free ; to another, 
you are bound ; but he must absolve the one, and 
dismiss the other without absolution. This he can- 
not do except on the ground of an accurate knowl- 
edge of the spiritual state of the penitent, a knowl- 
edge that can only be acquired by means of sincere 
and contrite confession. In the Sacrament of Pen- 

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202 The Sacrament of Penance. 

ance the confessor exercises a judicial power. Now 
a judge only gives sentence according to the facts 
of the case, which he has searched out and inves- 
tigated beforehand. 

In the Sacrament of Penance the confessor is 
also a physician whose office it is to prescribe rem- 
edies for the sick soul. For this it is equally 
necessary that he should be acquainted with the 
nature of the hurt which he has to heal. 

2. In the Acts of the Apostles we find an instance 
of confession. When Paul was laboring at Ephe- 
sus, where he cured many who were sick and cast 
out devils, " some also of the Jewish exorcists who 
went about attempted to invoke over them that 
had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, say- 
ing : I conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. 
But the wicked spirit, answering, said to them : 
Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you ? 
And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leap- 
ing upon them, and mastering them both, prevailed 
against them, so that they fled out of that house 
naked and wounded. And this became known to 
all the Jews and the Gentiles that dwelt at Ephesus, 
and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord 
Jesus was magnified. And many of them that be- 
lieved came confessing and declaring their deeds." 
(Acts xix. 13-18.) 

The apostle James also exhorts the Christians 
thus : " Confess therefore your sins one to another, 
and pray one for another, that you may be saved." 

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The Fathers in Support of Confession. 203 

(James v. 16.) And in St. John's epistles we read : 
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive our- 
selves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess 
our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our 
sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity." (1 John 

The Witness of the Fathers in Support of 

The testimony of the Fathers is more clear and 
decisive on this point than on almost any other ar- 
ticle of faith. It reaches back to the earliest ages 
of Christianity, for we find Clement of Rome, the 
third successor of St. Peter, of whom St. Paul says 
that his name is in the book of life, writing thus to 
the Corinthians : " While we are in this world we 
must turn away with our whole heart from the sins 
which we have committed, that we may find mercy 
with God while we still have time for penance, for 
when once we have departed out of this world we 
can no longer confess or do penance." 

Tertullian's words are as follows : " If you do not 
go to confession, remember the fire of eternity, 
which is extinguished by confession. Will conceal- 
ing something from the knowledge of a man enable 
us to hide it from God ? Which is preferable, to 
be condemned through concealment or acquitted 
through confession ? Woe be to those who put off 

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204 The Sacrament of Penance. 

confession from day to day, and care more about a 
little confusion than about their eternal salva- 
tion ! " St Augustine writes thus : " The man who 
says, I repent of my sins in secret before God, to 
confess to God is quite sufficient, makes void the 
Gospel, the word of God. If that were enough, 
for what purpose would the power of the keys have 
been given to the Church ? Why would Jesus 
Christ have said : 1 Whatsoever you bind or loose 
shall be loosed or bound in heaven ' ? Blush not 
to confess to one man what thou didst not blush 
to do in the sight of many. It is better to suffer 
a little shame before one man here than to be over- 
whelmed with confusion in the presence of multi- 
tudes of men hereafter on the Day of Judgment." 

Irenaeus, Athanasius, Ambrose, John Chrysos- 
tom, Leo the Great, and other Fathers of both the 
Latin and the Greek Churches express themselves 
no less plainly and unequivocally on this subject. 

Confession in the Russian Church* 

The fact that all the Churches which have sep- 
arated themselves from the See of Rome since the 
unhappy schism of Photius, Patriarch of Constan- 
tinople, have retained the ordinance of confession 
is perhaps the strongest evidence that it is of divine 
institution. As the Greek Church seceded as early 
as the year 867, it will be seen how unfounded is 

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Confession in the Russian Church. 205 

the statement that confession was introduced by 
Innocent III. in 1215. For the schismatics, in their 
hostility to the Latin Church, would certainly not 
have adopted the practice of confession had it not 
been the usage previous to the separation. By far 
the most important of the schismatical Churches is 
the Greek, and the Russian, which is an offshoot 
from it ; it will therefore be interesting for us to 
know what is their practice in regard to confession. 

The ordinance of confession in the Russian 
Church is a very elaborate proceeding, and on this 
account many persons, especially the upper classes, 
make their confession in their own houses, for a 
number of prayers have to be recited with each in- 
dividual before he begins his confession. Among 
these prayers is one to the Mother of God, which 
runs thus : " O blessed Mother of God, open to us, 
whose hope is in thee, the gate of grace ; let us not 
be put to confusion, but grant that we may be de- 
livered out of all tribulation by thee, who art the 
salvation of all Christians." 

After all the various prayers have ended, the 
priest addresses the following exhortation to the 
penitent : 

" Behold, my child, Christ is here present, though 
unseen, to receive thy confession. Wherefore be 
not ashamed^ neither be afraid, but tell me without 
equivocation what thou hast done, in order that 
thou mayst obtain forgiveness from Our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Look at this image before us [the crucifix]. 

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2o6 The Sacrament of Penance. 

I am here but as a witness, to report to Him what 
thou sayst to me ; see to it that, as thou comest 
hither for the sake of the medicine, thou dost not 
depart unhealed." 

He then questions the penitent concerning his 
faith : " Tell me, dost thou believe the doctrine de- 
livered to and taught by the Catholic and Apostolic 
Church, which, planted in the East, has spread 
thence throughout the whole world, and both in 
the East and here is immovable and immutable; 
and doubtest thou none of the traditions ? " 

On the penitent replying in the affirmative, he is 
required to repeat the Creed. Then he makes his 
confession. When this is ended, the priest says: 
"Bow down thy head." The penitent bends his 
head, and the priest proceeds: 

"O Lord God, the Saviour of Thy servant, 
gracious, merciful, and long-suffering, who art 
grieved by sin and wiliest not the death of the sin- 
ner, but that he should be converted and live; for- 
give, O Lord, this Thy servant N. ; grant to him the 
assurance of penance, pardon and remission of sin; 
absolve him from all the transgressions that he has 
wittingly committed; reconcile him and unite him 
again to Thy holy Church. Through Jesus Christ 
Our Lord, to whom with Thee be honor and glory, 
now and for evermore. Amen." 

At the conclusion of this prayer the penitent 
prostrates himself at the feet of the priest, who 
gives him absolution, saying : " May Jesus Christ, 

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Our Lord and God, through His grace, His goodness 
and His love, forgive thee, my child [mentioning 
his name], all thy sins. And I, an unworthy priest, 
through the power committed to me, absolve thee 
from thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." 

With these words he makes the sign of the cross 
over the penitent with his right hand. Some acts 
of thanksgiving follow; then the penitent kisses the 
cross and the book of the gospels, and goes his 

Hence it will be seen that the Roman Church 
makes the reception of the Sacrament of Penance 
somewhat more easy, since she retains of the ordi- 
nance as appointed originally only the essential part 
of the sacrament, confession to a priest and absolu- 
tion given by him; leaving it to the penitent to pre- 
pare himself for the reception of the sacred mystery, 
and give thanks after receiving it by various prayers 
and acts of virtue. 


In the holy Sacrament of Penance the Lord Our 
God remits the eternal penalty due to sin, and not 
unfrequently the temporal penalty also, as when 
Our Lord said to the penitent thief: " To-day thou 
shalt be with Me in paradise." (Luke xxiii. 43.) 
On the other hand, He often remits entirely only 

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2o8 The Sacrament of Penance. 

the guilt and eternal punishment of sin, leaving some 
temporal punishment to be borne by the sinner on 
account of his iniquities, either here on earth or 
hereafter in purgatory; as Solomon says: " The 
just vengeance of sinners always punisheth the 
transgression of the unjust." (Wisd. xiv. 31.) 

1. It is not enough to have contrite disposi- 
tions. The sinner must also perform works of sat- 
isfaction to appease the divine justice. In order 
to enable the repentant sinner to expiate the tem- 
poral penalty of sin and amend his life, the con- 
fessor sets him a penance to be performed, con- 
sisting, as a rule, in prayers, alms, fasts, or other 
corporal mortifications, which constitutes an inte- 
gral part of the Sacrament of Penance, so that any 
one refusing to perform the penance laid upon him 
would not be absolved. But if a penitent sees be- 
forehand that it will be impossible for him to per- 
form the penance enjoined by the confessor, let 
him say so humbly, and ask that some other may 
be given him. No one must venture to change his 
penance on his own authority. The penance must 
be performed with devotion and fervor, exactly in 
the manner prescribed by the confessor, and as 
soon as possible. Every time of going to confes- 
sion one should ask one's self whether the penance 
imposed the last time has been duly performed. A 
confession made without the intention of perform- 
ing the penance would be invalid, and must be re- 
peated. And if it has been omitted not with any 

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bad intention, but for some other reason, such as 
carelessness, the confession is not thereby rendered 
invalid, but the penitent has done wrong and de- 
prived himself of many graces. At any rate, he 
must mention it in his next confession if a greater 
work of penance has not been performed in conse- 

2. The penances imposed by the confessor 
ought, it is true, to be proportioned both to the na- 
ture and gravity of the sin, and to the strength of 
the penitent; but the Church's maternal indulgence 
for the weakness of her children, and the wise con- 
sideration of changed times and circumstances, 
have induced her to abate the ancient severity of 
her discipline, so that the penance of the present 
day hardly deserves to be called a punishment. 
But it appertains to the nature of contrition, arising 
from supernatural motives, that the sinner should 
supply what is wanting to the penance imposed 
upon him by the confessor by voluntary works of 
penance, to wit, prayers, fasts, almsgiving, espe- 
cially by patient endurance of sufferings and afflic- 
tions, pre-eminently those that are the evil conse- 
quences of our sins. These works of penance are 
at the same time an excellent means of amendment 
as being directly opposed to bad habits. Almsgiv- 
ing expiates sins of avarice; fasting subdues the 
concupiscences of the flesh; humble prayer is an an- 
tidote for pride. The sinner will besides be more 
watchful in the future. Thus works of penance are 

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2io The Sacrament of Penance. 

a true means of health to one who is really in ear- 
nest about his soul's welfare. 

3. Although we perform certain penitential acts, 
we know full well that we cannot of ourselves make 
satisfaction, but that all our penances derive their 
expiatory virtue from the merits of Christ. Christ 
first of all made atonement for us, and when we 
perform works of penance we show our good will, 
by chastising ourselves in the hope of escaping 
divine chastisement. Wherefore it is great pre- 
sumption on our part to say: I need not to do 
penance, because Christ has suffered for me and 
borne the punishment of sin in my stead. Let 
us rather contemplate the example of the Apostle 
Paul, who did penance on behalf of his brethren, 
as he declared to the Colossians in his epistle: " I 
rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those 
things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ 
in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church." 
(Col. i. 24.) 


The history of the people of Israel shows us that 
God, although He forgives sins and cancels the 
eternal punishment of sin, oftentimes retains the 
temporal punishment. The Jews had murmured 
against God, and He threatened to destroy them. 
Upon Moses* entreaty He forgave them, but He 
commanded him to tell the people: " All the men 
that have seen My majesty, and the signs that I 

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have done in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have 
tempted Me now ten times, and have not obeyed 
My voice, shall not see the land for which I swore 
to their fathers, neither shall any one of them that 
hath detracted Me behold it." (Numb. xiv. 22, 23.) 
And of all the men that came out of Egypt only 
Josue and Caleb were permitted to enter the prom- 
ised land. Even Moses and Aaron were only privi- 
leged to view the land from afar, because they had 
doubted whether the water would flow in abundance 
out of the rock. (Numb, xxvii. 13, 14.) When 
David repented bitterly of the sin he had been 
guilty of with the wife of Urias, the Lord announced 
to him forgiveness by the mouth of the prophet 
Nathan, but yet he punished him by the death of 
the child he so fondly loved. (2 Kings xii. 18.) And 
when that same David, dazzled by pride, caused the 
people to be numbered, the Lord forgave him the 
sin, but punished him for it by sending a pestilence 
upon Israel. (2 Kings xxiv. 13.) The exhortation 
of John the Baptist proves that God is appeased by 
penance : " Bring forth fruits worthy of penance." 
(Luke iii. 8.) And Our Lord Himself mentions 
almsgiving as a work of penance when He says: 
" Give alms, and behold, all things are clean unto 
you." (Luke xi. 41.) 

The lives of God's servants abound in voluntary 
works of penance, in the bitterest mortifications, 
the most severe austerities. St. Peter wept for his 
sin all the remainder of his days. St. Paul resisted 

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212 The Sacrament of Penance. 

unto blood, striving against sin. (Heb. xii. 4.) 
Magdalen fasted and prayed in the desert all her 
life long. All the friends of God have done like- 
wise, following the counsel of St. Augustine: " If 
thou wouldst not be punished by God, punish thy- 

St. John Chrysostom on the Manner in which 
We ought to do Penance* 

"This is what I call penance: when a man not 
merely forsakes his sins, but does good works in 
the place of them. Bring forth fruits worthy of 
penance, says St. John. How are we to do this? 
I answer, by doing what is directly opposed to our 
sins. For instance: thou hast taken another man's 
goods; begin to give away that which is thine own. 
Hast thou suffered thyself to be led away by thy 
concupiscences to forbidden indulgences ? In 
atonement abstain for a time from what is per- 
mitted. Hast thou offended or injured thy neighbor 
in word or deed ? Give him kind words in place of 
insults, and benefits in compensation for the harm 
thou hast done him. For unseemly revels substitute 
fasting, and for excess of wine punish thyself by 
drinking water. If thine eyes have wandered after 
unchaste objects, close them so as not to look upon 
what is innocent." 

From such passages, treating of penance, which 

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are found in all the Fathers and Doctors of the 
Church, we learn that works of penance, although 
arduous, are efficacious. Penance has been justly 
called by the Fathers a painful kind of baptism. 


It is not sufficient that the penitent should be 
sorry for his misdeeds, go to confession, and agree 
to make the necessary satisfaction ; he must also be 
actually absolved from his sins. The absolution 
consists in these words pronounced by the priest : 
" I absolve thee^from thy sins in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 

In regard to absolution these things are to be 
borne in mind : 

1. Absolution is not merely a declaration that 
God has remitted the sin; it is a real judicial act 
which the priest performs in virtue of the powers 
granted to the apostles. (Matt, xviii. 18.) 

2. No one has power to absolve from sin as 
in the place of God except a rightfully ordained 
priest, who has received from his bishop faculties 
which have not subsequently been withdrawn. 
These faculties, however, extend only to the limits 
of the diocese of the bishop by whom they have 
been conferred. For instance, a priest who has 
powers for the archdiocese of New York or West- 

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214 The Sacrament of Penance. 

minster cannot hear confessions in any other dio- 
cese unless the bishop of that diocese has given 
him faculties either for the whole diocese or for 
some special place or particular occasion, such as 
when he is helping in a mission. 

3. In order that his absolution may be valid, the 
priest must have authority or jurisdiction over the 
person to be absolved. The Holy Father has ju- 
risdiction over the whole of Christendom, the bishop 
over his see, the priest in his parish.* Assistant 
priests have the same jurisdiction as the parish 
priest, and so have any priests whose services are 
requested by the parish priest for any particular 
occasion. The superiors of religious orders have 
jurisdiction over the members of their order. But 
in the case of danger of death all these limitations 
are removed; and if no rightly authorized priest is 
within call, a priest who has been suspended, nay, 
even an apostate priest can hear the confession of 
a dying man, or one in danger of death, and give 
him absolution. 

4 % There are also sins from which every priest 
has not power to absolve, but which, on account of 
their more grievous and atrocious nature, are re- 
served to the bishop or Pope. This is done in 
order to bring home to those who commit such sins 
a sense of the magnitude of their guilt and that 
they may be properly dealt with. Every confessor 
is told what sins are reserved in the diocese ; and 

* The priests receive jurisdiction from the bishop gen- 
erally for the whole diocese, though specially for their 

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any one who has the misfortune to fall into one of 
these sins will be informed by his confessor how 
he may obtain absolution. 

5. The confessor is not only empowered to ab- 
solve the repentant sinner: it is likewise his duty to 
refuse absolution to sinners who, though they come 
to confession, have not a good will to amend their 
life. Were he to absolve such persons he would 
be guilty of an abuse of the powers confided to 
him and commit a grievous sin. Those who 
ought not to be absolved are, among others, the 
following : 

Those who will not restore property unjustly 

Those who will not make up quarrels. 

Those who have frequently relapsed into the 
self -same mortal sin and will not employ the means 
of avoiding it. 

Those who will not shun the occasions of sin, 
the individuals who have been their accomplices in 
sin, the places where they are tempted to sin ; who 
wiH not put an end to the scandal they give, etc., 

Now it sometimes happens that when a priest 
refuses to give absolution to a penitent the latter 
when he leaves the confessional complains loudly 
and blames the priest, who cannot say a word 
in his own justification on account of the seal 
of confession. The only thing to be said to such 
an unhappy man, who thinks himself aggrieved 
because absolution is denied him, is this : It is 

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216 The Sacrament of Penance. 

owing to the nature of your confession ; by your 
own conduct you have been undeserving of it. 
To no one is the withholding of absolution so 
great a grief as to the confessor himself. 


Above all things we must beware of not making 
the right distinction between confession and pen- 
ance. It was not the sacrament of confession, but 
the Sacrament of Penance, that Christ instituted. 
Confession is but a part of the Sacrament of Pen- 
ance, and not even the principal part ; contrition, 
purpose of amendment, and satisfaction are all 
more important. The mere avowal of sin, without 
real compunction and a corresponding resolution 
of amendment, does not purge away sin. God re- 
quires before all a contrite and a humbled heart, 
and to such He grants His grace. 

And with the assistance of God's grace we must 
labor perseveringly at the amendment of our life. 
Most especially we must be on our guard against 
relapsing through our negligence into our old sins, 
lest finally that should be true of us which the 
apostle Peter said of some : " It had been better 
for them not to have known the way of justice, 
than after they have known it, to turn back from 
that holy commandment which was delivered to 
them. For that of the true proverb has happened 
to them : The dog is returned to his vomit ; and 

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the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the 
mire." (2 Pet. ii. 21, 22.) 


Adam, the first sinner on earth, was also the first 
penitent. When God asked him : " Hast thou 
eaten of the forbidden fruit ? 99 he confessed, and did 
not de^y having done so. Cain, on the other hand, 
when asked by God : " Where is thy brother Abel ? " 
answered defiantly: " I know not ; am I my broth- 
er's keeper?" (Gen. iv. 9.) Therefore Adam found 
mercy, but Cain did not ; for we read in the Book 
of Wisdom : " Wisdom preserved him, that was 
first formed by God, the Father of the world, when 
he was created alone. And she brought him out 
of his sin, and gave him power to govern all things. 
But when the unjust went away from her in his 
anger, he perished by the fury wherewith he mur- 
dered his brother." (Wisd. x. 1-3.) 

The example of the inhabitants of Ninive affords 
clear proof that penance earns forgiveness. When 
they heard the prophecy of Jonas they looked 
into their own hearts. " They proclaimed a fast, 
and put on the garments of mourning, from the 
greatest to the least. And the word came to the 
king of Ninive, and he rose up out of his throne, 
and cast away his robe from him, and was clothed 
with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it 
to be proclaimed and published in Ninive from the 

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2 1 8 The Sacrament of Penance. 

mouth of the king and of his princes, saying : Let 
neither men nor beasts, oxen nor sheep, taste any- 
thing ; let them not feed, nor drink water. And 
let men and beasts cry to the Lord with all their 
strength ; and let them turn every one from his 
evil way, and from the iniquity that is in their 
hands. . . . And God saw their works, and that they 
were turned from their evil way, and God had 
mercy with regard to the evil which He had said 
that He would do to them, and He did it not" 
(Jon. iii. 5-10.) 

Again, we see how forgiveness is granted to pen- 
ance by the example of King Achab (3 Kings xxi. 
2 7"~ 2 9)> King Josias (4 Kings xxii. 19, 20), King 
Ezechias (2 Paral. xxxii. 26), and King Manasses 
(lb. xxxiii. 12, 13), from whom God, for the sake 
of their penance, averted the evil that He was 
about to send upon them. 

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In the Sacrament of Penance, as has been seen, 
the eternal punishment due to sin is always re- 
mitted, but, on account of the defectiveness of our 
contrition, not always the temporal punishment — the 
punishment, that is to say, which we must suffer 
either here on earth or hereafter in purgatory. 
Wherefore the Church comes to our aid with in- 
dulgences in order that we may also obtain remis- 
sion of the temporal punishment still due to sin, 

i. By indulgences, therefore, we mean, not the re- 
mission of sin, but the remission of temporal pun- 
ishment. Before obtaining the benefit of indul- 
gences our guilt must have been washed away in 
the Sacrament of Penance. Indulgences are con- 
sequently granted apart from the Sacrament of 

This shows the folly of those who assert that in 
the Catholic Church remission of sin may be pur- 
chased with money and that one is afterwards free 
to sin again. For since absolution, which is an in- 
dispensable preliminary, is only granted to those 
who are sincerely contrite — and a firm resolution to 

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sin no more for the future belongs to sincere con- 
trition — it follows as a necessary consequence that 
indulgences are intended as a consolation for the 
contrite, not as an encouragement to continue in 

2. The Church received r rom Our Lord the 
power to grant indulgences at the same time as she 
received power to remit sins. For when Our Lord 
said to Peter : Whatsoever thou shall loose on 
earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. xvi. 19) 
He made no exception. Who would imagine that 
Christ, who gave His apostles authority to remit 
sin and the eternal penalty of sin, would have de- 
nied them the far lesser authority of cancelling its 
temporal penalty ? 

3. As indulgences form no part of the Sacrament 
of Penance, the confessor has not power to grant 
them. This power appertains to the rulers of the 
Church alone, and is vested in the successor of 
Peter, the Pope of Rome, who exercises it through- 
out the whole Church on behalf of every one of 
her members. Bishops have the right of granting 
indulgences only within their own dioceses ; but in 
order to prevent abuses, or any disturbance of the 
peace of the Church, the ecclesiastical canons re- 
quire every indulgence to be sanctioned by the 
Pope. It is customary for bishops to grant partial 
and local indulgences on certain occasions, such as 
the consecration of a church, 

4. An indulgence is not an ordinary absolution ; 

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it is an application of the superabundant treasures 
of the Church, the merits of Christ and of the 
saints. The satisfaction made by Christ was infi- 
nite and no further satisfaction on the part of man 
was necessary to render it an available source of 
indulgences. But in His mercy and charity Jesus 
Christ permits what is over and above in the merits 
of the saints to count as penance for our sins. Now 
the holy martyrs and confessors, in fact all of 
God's saints, have expiated more than their of- 
fences required. And as we all constitute one great 
family, and are united in one body, the Church — 
and as the good works and merits of the Church 
are common to all her members, so the penitential 
works of the saints, as well as the infinite work of 
satisfaction made by Jesus Christ, are applied to us 
for the remission of our temporal punishment. 

Indulgences profit the holy souls in purgatory 
also, since they, too, belong to the body of Christ's 
Church. But, as they are no longer under the ju- 
risdiction of the Church, indulgences can only 
be applied to them by way of suffrage. It is per- 
mitted to the faithful to pray God of His mercy 
to apply the indulgence, or remission of pun- 
ishment, which they have gained, not to them- 
selves, but to the suffering souls in their stead. The 
wisest course is to leave all to the love and wisdom 
of God, making it our intention that those souls 
may be benefited by them who are the most de- 
serving and the most necessitous. It must be re- 

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membered that those indulgences alone are appli- 
cable to the suffering souls which the Holy See 
expressly states to be so. 

5. Indulgences are plenary or partial according 
as the remission of the temporal penalties is en- 
tire or limited. In the case of partial indulgences 
the amount of canonical penance remitted is al- 
ways stated. If, on the announcement of an in- 
dulgence, a term of seven years and seven quar- 
antines (forty days' fast) or a hundred days is 
granted, this means that so much is remitted as 
would have been remitted by seven years and seven 
quarantines or a hundred days of public canonical 
penance. It is necessary in order to gain indul- 
gences to have in a general manner the intention 
of so doing. . 

6. As the sin whereby the Christian draws upon 
himself a temporal punishment must be expiated, 
to a certain extent at least, by the sinner, the 
Church requires some good work as the condition 
of gaining the indulgence. For partial indulgences 
it is usually some act of devotion — e. g., the recital 
of a prescribed prayer ; for plenary, it is often the 
gift of money for some pious object which is men- 
tioned — the erection of a church, the support of 
missions or Christian schools, or some other 
good work. Thus, for instance, Leo X. granted a 
plenary indulgence to all who should contribute 
towards the rebuilding of St. Peter's at Rome after 
it had been burned down. This indulgence being 

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published in Germany gave Luther occasion to in- 
veigh against indulgences. Hence comes the absurd 
fable to which the antagonists of the Church still 
cling, that forgivenness of sins can be purchased 
with money. In the earlier centuries indulgences 
were also granted to those who contributed to the 
crusades or who joined the crusades, or who sup- 
ported a hospital or performed similar good and 
charitable works enjoined by the Church. 

In order to gain an indulgence it is first of all 
necessary to be in a state of grace. For obtaining 
a plenary indulgence the condition generally is 
a detestation of all sin, a good confession, and the 
reception of holy communion. It is requisite, be- 
sides, that the prescribed works should be per- 
formed conscientiously and while in a state of 
grace. For should a man who had made his con- 
fession and been to communion fall into mortal 
sin before performing the penance set him he 
would be incapable of gaining the indulgence until 
he was again in a state of grace. A further condi- 
tion is prayer for the intention of the Holy Father, 
for the exaltation of the Church, the overthrow of 
her enemies, the peace of Christian princes and na- 
tions, the removal of all divisions and schisms, and 
for the Holy Father himself. It is enough to re- 
cite five Paters for the intention of His Holiness, 
to which another Pater may be added for the Holy 
Father in person. The intentions of the Holy 
Father ars, however, nowhere expressed more ad- 

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mirably than in the Litany of the Saints and in the 
Universal Prayer. 

Some Remarks About the Gaming of Indulgences* 

1. An indulgence cannot be gained if the pre- 
scribed works are done by another ; every one must 
perform them for himself. 

2. If a single one of the prescribed conditions 
be unfulfilled, either through one's own fault or 
through infirmity or forget fulness, the indulgence 
cannot be obtained. 

3. Those persons whose pious habit it is to ap- 
proach the Sacraments of Penance and of the Altar 
every week can gain all the indulgences which are 
to be gained during the week without going spe- 
cially to confession for this object. 

4. A work which is not done in view of gaining 
an indulgence is powerless to obtain it. 

5. If an indulgence be offered up for the holy 
souls, let it not be thought to be of no profit to him 
who offers it. Not only does he gain the grace of 
making satisfaction for the holy souls, but he mer- 
its for himself an eternal reward. 

6. If a visit to one or more churches is one of 
the prescribed conditions the visit must be made 
with no other intention than that of gaining the in- 
dulgence ; it must not be made from curiosity or 
from mere habit ; and one must conduct one's self 
in a devout and reverent manner on the way thither. 

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Ecclesiastical Discipline of the Early Church. 225 

7. An indulgence cannot be gained by doing 
any work which is otherwise of obligation. Thus, 
supposing that to visit one's parish church three 
times is one of the conditions to be fulfilled : I 
cannot gain the indulgence by going to Mass on 
three Sundays unless I have already fulfilled the 
command of the Church by hearing Mass on the 
same day. 

8. One must not lend or give away rosaries or 
medals or crucifixes to which an indulgence is at- 
tached ; no one except the first owner of such arti- 
cles can obtain the indulgence. On the death of 
the person to whom they originally belonged the 
indulgence is at an end. But by lending them to 
another the owner does not forfeit the indulgence. 

Ecclesiastical Discipline in the Early Church* 

It will readily be understood that among the 
early Christians, who were, for the most part, 
only baptized heathens, the old pagan nature not 
unfrequently came to the surface in one or other 
of them, and matters occurred which gave scandal 
to the Christian community. For instance, at 
Corinth a man took his father's wife (his step- 
mother) and lived with her in incestuous union. 
When the Apostle Paul heard of this he wrote to 
Corinth and pronounced this sentence upon the 
offender : " I indeed absent in body, but present 
in spirit, have already judged, as though J were 

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present, him that hath so done : In the name of 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together 
and my spirit, with the power of Our Lord Jesus, 
to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction 
of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (i Cor. v. 3-5.) Thus 
St. Paul ejected this sinner from the Christian con- 
gregation. The man was cut to the heart, and did 
penance with such contrition that the whole com- 
munity felt compassion for him and told St. Paul of 
his good dispositions. The Apostle readmitted him 
to Christian fellowship ; and this he did on account 
of the intercession made for him by the Christians 
of Corinth and, as he expressly declared, in the 
person of Christ. " To whom you have pardoned 
anything, I also. For what I have pardoned, if I 
have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done 
it in the person of Christ." (2 Cor. ii. 10.) That is 
the first instance we meet with of granting indul- 

In the times of persecution, when every effort 
was made by means of the most ingenious tortures 
to induce the Christians to abandon their faith, it 
oftentimes happened, unfortunately, that some gave 
way and purchased their life by denying Christ. 
These were set at liberty, but the faithful turned 
from them and excluded them from their com- 
munion. Thus many were brought to repentance, 
and willingly subjected themselves to a canonical 
penance of great severity for the remainder of their 

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Ecclesiastical Discipline of the Early Church. 227 

lives. In their sorrow many appealed to the mar- 
tyrs, even seeking them out in the prisons and en- 
treating piteously for forgiveness. And the mar- 
tyrs, like the Corinthians of whom mention has 
been made, sorrowed with them and pleaded for 
them, so that the punishment of the lapsed, as they 
were called, was either completely or partially re- 
mitted. That, again, was an indulgence. When 
Christianity was free to appear openly many 
sought admittance into the Church who were not 
animated by the holy fervor of the early Chris- 
tians, and the bishops were obliged to enforce strict 
discipline. Public penance had to be done for 
public sins, and the nature and extent of that pen- 
ance was not left to the judgment of every individ- 
ual confessor, but the penalties which were to be 
imposed for certain sins were determined, with the 
general principle that as time went on the severity 
of the penance was to be relaxed. There were four 
classes through which the penitent must pass be- 
fore being reconciled to the Church. 

The first class was that of the mourners (flcntes). 
When they commenced their period of penance 
their hair was cut off, ashes were strewn on their 
heads, and the priest announced their penance to 
them. This he did, in accordance with the decrees 
of the Council and the penitential books, in the 
following manner: 

" Since you come hither in the hope of regaining 
through penance the grace of God, which you 

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lost by sin, I must first of all acquaint you with the 
commandments of Holy Scripture and the customs 
of holy Church, lest you should imagine that we 
act arbitrarily in imposing penances upon you. 
Since you have done that which God forbids, pen- 
ance obliges you to abstain from what is permitted. 
For the first forty days, therefore, the sinner must 
fast on bread, water, and salt, or, if he have not the 
strength for this, for three days in the week at 
least (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday); on the 
other days he may eat vegetables as well. On Sun- 
days he may partake of whatever he may have, 
with the exception of meat and wine, and this ab- 
stinence must be kept for one year, or for five or 
seven years, according to the gravity of the sin. He 
must, however, take his meals alone, not with his 
fellow-Christians. He must walk barefoot, he must 
not ride or drive nor frequent the baths, and if 
not already married he must not marry, and must 
deem himself unworthy to receive holy commun- 
ion." Then the priest proceeded to say : " Be- 
hold, I expel you this day out of the communion 
of the Church, as Adam was driven out of paradise 
because of his sins. Let not the sinner, therefore, 
enter the church at the time of divine service or 
of public prayer ; let him stand in the porch or 
outside the door, let him kiss the threshold, and 
with tears entreat the faithful to pray for him as 
they go in or pass out." 

That was undeniably a very severe penance. 

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Ecclesiastical Discipline of the Early Church. 229 

When the penitent had been for a fixed time (some- 
times several years) in the class of mourners he 
was admitted into the class of hearers (audientes). 
He was then permitted to lay aside his penitential 
garb and enter into the church to hear the word of 
God and the Christian instruction; but he might 
not join the body of the faithful ; he had to remain 
in the back part of the church among the catechu- 
mens, to learn again the doctrines of the Christian 
faith, which he was supposed to have forgotten. 
He had to leave the church after the sermon. 

After this other, and often long, period of pen- 
ance the penitent was received into the class of 
kneelers {substrati). These latter were not allowed 
to assist at the holy sacrifice of the Mass, but they 
took part in the prayers and occupied a place in 
the nave of the church. When the time came for 
them to withdraw they threw themselves at the 
feet of the bishop and the priests who were pres- 
ent, that they might lay their hands upon them and 
pray for them. 

Finally, at the close of a long period of penance 
and sorrow for sin, absolution was given to the pen- 
itents, and they were taken into the class of by- 
standers {consistent es). They were then no longer 
forbidden to be present at Mass, but they might 
not receive holy communion until a sufficient time 
had elapsed to test the sincerity of their penance 
and amendment of life. 

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The Advantages which the Living Derive from 

It is a very common error to suppose that in- 
dulgences are now unnecessary, and even useless, 
because canonical penances are no longer imposed. 
But, even setting aside the fact that indulgences are 
a remission, not merely of ecclesiastical, but of all 
temporal, penalties, they are still of service to us 
simply regarded as cancelling ecclesiastical penal- 
ties. The old canonical penances were imposed 
on account of public, open, scandal having been 
given ; if they are no longer imposed by the Church 
it does not follow that they are no longer deserved. 
The sinner who has given scandal to the Christian 
community merits punishment as much as ever, 
and if he is not called upon to undergo that pun- 
ishment he must yet expiate his sin in whatever 
manner the divine justice may decide, either in this 
world or in the next. How much many a man who 
ttoinks lightly of indulgences really needs them 
may be seen from the ecclesiastical penances for- 
merly decreed, of which a few are here quoted : 

For thoughtlessly injuring the reputation of 
one's neighbor, a fast of seven days on bread and 

For breaking the rule of fasting during Lent, 
seven days' penance for each day on which the law 
was transgressed. The same for indulging in idle 
diversions and amusements on Sunday. 

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Advantages Derived from Indulgences. 231 

For talking during divine service, ten days' fast 
on bread and water. 

For drinking to excess so as to make one's self 
sick, fifteen days' fast, and afterwards three days' 
abstinence from wine and flesh-meat. 

For neglecting to approach the Lord's table on 
Holy Thursday, at Easter, Pentecost, and Christ- 
mas, twenty days' fast on bread and water. 

For wantonly making a man drunk, thirty days' 

For not observing the ember-days, forty days' fast. 

Parents through whose fault a child, did not re- 
ceive holy Baptism or Confirmation had to atone 
for their sin by three years of penance ; also a man 
who wore the dress of a woman or a woman who as- 
sumed masculine habiliments, and those who prac- 
tised usury or who danced on holidays of obligation. 

For adultery the term of penance was ten years. 

For treason against king or lord, or revolt against 
episcopal authority the penalty was to be impris- 
oned for life in a cloister. 

These rules bear witness to the severity of eccle- 
siastical discipline among the early Christians and 
the strictness of morals required of the faithful. 
But, it may be objected, if all these penances were 
enforced for every crime, how many delinquents 
would have to spend their whole life long at the 
portals of the Church and fast all their days on 
bread and water, in sackcloth and ashes! By means 
of indulgences, we answer, they would not merely 

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*3 2 


be released from the punishment they deserved, but 
they would be reminded of their sinfulness and 
filled with abhorrence of sin. On this point the 
holy Council of Trent speaks thus : 

" Whereas the power of granting indulgences was 
given by Christ to the Church, and from the earli- 
est times she has made use of this power, com- 
mitted to her by God, this holy Synod teaches and 
commands that the use of indulgences, which is 
most salutary for Christian people and sanctioned 
by the authority of the holy Councils, is to be re- 
tained in the Church." (Sess. xxv.) 

The Jubilee Indulgence* 

The most ample indulgence is the jubilee in- 
dulgence, which was formerly granted at stated 
times by the Popes to those who should visit the 
holy places in Rome. It is called by the name of 
jubilee (joyful sound) for the same reason as the 
Jews called each fiftieth year the year of jubi- 
lee. In that year all debts were cancelled among 
the Hebrews, property that had been acquired by 
purchase reverted to the original owner, and Hebrew 
slaves bought since the last jubilee year were set 
free. In like manner this indulgence remits all tem- 
poral punishment without exception, and confers 
various privileges, both upon the penitent and also 
upon the confessor in regard to giving absolution. 

The first jubilee indulgence was granted in 1300 

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The Jubilee Indulgence. 233 

by Pope Boniface VIII. on account of the excep- 
tionally large number of pilgrims who were that 
year in Rome. This was to recur every hundredth 
year, but Clement VI., the fifth successor of the 
afore-named Pope, caused the second jubilee to be 
celebrated in 1350, in consideration of the brevity 
of human life. He also decreed that the jubilee 
indulgence was to be granted every fiftieth year, 
after the fashion of the Old Testament jubilee. 
In 1391 Pope Boniface IX. extended this indul- 
gence to some of the principal towns of Germany. 
But the interval of fifty years being too long to as- 
sure to all Christians a participation in the benefits 
of the jubilee, the cycle was reduced by three 
Popes, Gregory IX., Urban VI., and Pius V., to a 
period of thirty-three years, in memory of the 
thirty-three years of Our Lord's life on earth. Fi- 
nally, Pope Paul II. decreed that for the future a 
general indulgence should be granted every twenty- 
five years. In the year 1475 tne jubilee was ex- 
tended to all orthodox Christians throughout the 
world, without limitation to the city of Rome, and 
this still continues to be the rule. 

During the term of jubilee ordinary confessors 
are empowered to absolve from all sins and canon- 
ical penalties, even in cases usually reserved to the 
bishop or the Pope. They have also power to ab- 
solve from vows of almost every kind or commute 
them into some other good work. The jubilee 
confession may be made to any confessor whatso- 

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ever, provided he be a priest duly authorized by 
his bishop. The conditions for gaining an ordinary 
jubilee are (i) contrite confession of sin ; (2) a 
worthy reception of holy communion ; (3) a visit 
to one or more churches, determined by the bishop ; 
(4) prayer for the Holy Father's intention. 

The paschal communion does not fulfil the 
conditions of the indulgence, but the Easter con- 
fession serves for the purpose. 

Elsewhere than in Rome at the time of the jubi- 
lee all other indulgences cease to be in force, ex- 
cepting only those that are applicable to the holy 
souls and those that are granted to the dying. 

There are also extraordinary jubilees which the 
Supreme Pontiffs are wont to grant on special occa- 
sions, such as their assumption of the tiara, or on 
account of some particular cause of solicitude, con- 
cerning which the divine succor is to be implored ; 
or, again, if there be call for extraordinary thanks- 
giving, as for deliverance in time of urgent need or 
the averting of some great peril. In order to ob- 
tain these indulgences, as a rule fasting and an alms 
according to the means of the individual are re- 
quired, as well as confession, communion, the visit 
to a church, and prayer. 

IJere remark: (1) These fasts are binding on those 
who are otherwise dispensed. (2) On the days speci- 
fied as fasting- days, milk, butter, and eggs are 
forbidden, unless a dispensation be obtained. (3) 
Children who have not yet made their first com- 

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Some Indulgences which may be Obtained. 235 

munion can gain the indulgence if they go to con- 
fession. (4) Almsgiving in the case of the poor, and 
the visit to a church in the case of the sick or pris- 
oners, may be changed for some other good work. 
(5) The alms given by the master of a household 
avails for the children and servants. 

Further details may be learned from the pastoral 
letter of the bishop of the diocese, or from the con- 
fessor during the time of the jubilee. 

Some Indulgences which may he Obtained by 
Every One without much Difficulty* 

1. For those who recite with contrition and de- 
votion the following ascription of praise in honor of 
the Most Holy Trinity : 

" Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; the earth is 
full of Thy glory. Glory be to the Father, glory be 
to the Son, glory be to the Holy Ghost " — an indul- 
gence of a hundred days once a day ; a plenary in- 
dulgence on the usual conditions once a month for 
those who recite it daily during the month, (Clem- 
ent XIV., 6th June, 1769, and 26th June, 1770.) 

2. For those who repeat the Glory be to the 
Father, etc., in the morning, at noon, and at night 
in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, in thanksgiving 
for all the grace and privileges conferred upon the 
Blessed Virgin and more especially at her assump- 
tion, an indulgence of one hundred days three times 
a day; and plenary on the usual conditions once a 

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23 6 


month on any day that may be chosen for those who 
recite it as prescribed daily during a whole month. 

3. For those who recite with a contrite and 
devout heart the following prayers : 

" O Sacrament most holy ! O Sacrament divine ! 
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment 

— an indulgence of one hundred days once a day; 
and if it be recited daily for a month a plenary indul- 
gence once in the month on the ordinary condi- 
tions. (Pius VI., 24th May, 1776.) 

4. " O sweetest Heart of Jesus ! I implore 

That I may ever love Thee more and more! " 

— three hundred days' indulgence every time of re- 
cital, and plenary once a month on any day that 
may be chosen if recited daily. Conditions: con- 
fession, communion, visit to a church, prayer for 
the Holy Father's intentions. (Pius IX., 26th 
November, 1876.) 

5. To all who recite with contrite and devout 
heart the acts of faith, hope, and charity an in- 
dulgence of seven years and seven quarantines each 
time ; plenary once a month on any day that may 
be chosen, on the usual conditions, if the acts have 
been recited daily for a month, and in the hour of 
death for those who have been faithful in practising 
this devotion during their life. 

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Some Indulgences which may be Obtained. 237 

By a month is meant, not the space of thirty 
or thirty-one days, but the whole of a calendar 
month, e.g., from the first day of February until the 

6. All who with contrite and devout disposi- 
tions visit an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 
exposed for public veneration in a church or chapel 
or upon an altar, and pray before that image for a 
short space of time for the intentions of the Holy 
Father, gain an indulgence of seven years and seven 
quarantines. (Pius VI., 2d January, 1799.) 

7. " Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, 
that never was it known that any one who fled to 
thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy 
intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this 
confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my 
Mother. To thee I come ; before thee I stand, sin- 
ful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, 
despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and 
answer me. Amen." 

Three hundred days for each recital of the above 
prayer with contrition and devotion ; a plenary in- 
dulgence once a month on any day that may be 
chosen for saying it at least once daily during the 
month. Conditions: confession, communion, visit 
to a church, prayer for the Holy Father's inten- 
tions. (Pius IX., nth December, 1846.) 

8. "Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation! " 
Three hundred days each time of repetition. 

(Pius IX., 30th September, 1852.) At the same time 

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the same Pope granted a plenary indulgence once a 
month to all who should repeat the above ejacula- 
tion daily during a month, the conditions being 
confession, communion, visit to a church, prayer 
for the Pope's intentions. 

9. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart 
and my soul. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me 
in my last agony. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may 
I breathe forth my soul in peace with you." 

Three hundred days each time. (Pius VII., 28th 
April, 1807.) 

10. " St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray 
for us!" 

One hundred days once a day for all the faithful 
who shall repeat this prayer once daily. (Pius IX., 
2d June, 1874.) 

These indulgences are all applicable to the souls 
in purgatory. 

Practical Application. 

1. Praiseworthy though it undoubtedly is to 
gain indulgences in order thereby to participate in 
the merits of Christ and obtain remission of tem- 
poral punishment, yet we must, as our primary aim, 
endeavor to make ourselves worthy to receive these 
graces. Otherwise we should, like Peter, cast out 
our nets and take nothing. It is not the external 
works, indispensable as they are, that procure the 
indulgence, but a penitent disposition of heart. 

2, Our conscience often has cause to accuse us 

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Some Indulgences which may be Obtained. 239 

of having been unkind, unjust, rude towards those 
who are now departed; of having offended or vexed 
them. If it were possible we would gladly ask 
their pardon and make amends to them, but it is no 
longer in our power to do this, for they are dead. 
The system of indulgences affords us a means of at 
least to some extent making reparation for the 
wrong we have done. In regard to parents and 
benefactors, simple gratitude renders it our duty to 
be diligent in gaining indulgences on their behalf. 

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XTbe Sacrament of Extreme Tllnctfon. 

" Jesus, having loved His own who were in the 
world, loved them unto the end." (John xiii. i.) 
These words apply just as fully to the institution of 
the Sacrament of Extreme Unction as to that of the 
Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. The grace of 
our divine Lord accompanies the Christian through- 
out his whole life; from the time of his Baptism 
until he draws his last breath it does not forsake 
him. It supports him in the last most terrible hour, 
for it administers to him the holy Sacrament of 
Extreme Unction by the hands of the priest, Christ's 

The Sacrament of Extreme Unction is that sacra- 
ment in which by anointing with consecrated oil the 
organs of sense, the hands and feet, of one who is 
dangerously sick he is delivered from sin and the 
remains of sin and is either restored to bodily 
health or imbued with courage and fortitude to 
encounter the terrors of death. Thus St. James 
says: *' Is any man sick among you? Let him 
bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray 
over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the 

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Reflection. — God, in His infinite goodness, has given 
to His Church sacraments adapted to all our wants, 
not only during life, but also at the hour of our death, 
that terrible moment on which our eternity depends. 
By Baptism we are born for heaven, by Confirmation 
we are made strong, by the Holy Eucharist we are fed, 
by Penance we are cured of our wounds or even 
restored to the life of grace, and by the Sacrament of 
Extreme Unction we are prepared to die with a holy 
resignation to the divine will, and enabled to overcome 
the final efforts of Satan to make us lose our soul. 
This sacrament has even the power to restore the sick 
to health, if it is conducive to their salvation. Thus 
from our birth to our death the Church furnishes us 
with all the requisite means of salvation, so that, if we 
are lost, it will not be for want of grace on the part of 
God, but through our own fault and neglect. 

Practice. — Let us daily beseech God for the grace 
to die a holy death, fortified with the Sacraments of 
Penance, the Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction. 
That we may be fit to obtain this priceless favor, let 
us strive to avoid every sin that may endanger our 
salvation. It is a pious custom to pray daily for those 
persons who are in their agony, that they may depart 
this life in the state of grace. 

Prayer. — O my God, since the hour of my death is 
uncertain and may come at any moment, ! am resolved 
to avoid every grievous sin and its occasions. Grant 
me the grace, when my last hour draws nigh, to be 
strengthened by the reception of the Sacraments of 
Penance, the Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction, so 
that, when I appear before Thee to be judged, I may 
find in Thee a merciful judge. O Mary, pray for me 
now and at the hour of my death. Amen. 

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The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 241 

Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick 
man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he be 
in sins, they shall be forgiven him." (James v. 14, 

I 5 - ) 

1. These words of the apostle convey to us at 
once a behest and a promise. We are commanded 
if any one among us is sick, to fetch the priests of 
the Church. The priests are commanded to pray 
over the sick man, to anoint him with oil ; succor 
both spiritual and physical is promised to the sick, 
forgiveness of sin, and strength (raising up) through 
the supernatural grace which proceeds from God 
alone. Here we have a sacramental supernatural 
grace, which accompanies a visible sign, viz., the 
unction with oil. It would be lost labor to search 
out the time when Our Lord instituted this sacra- 
ment, for had it not been instituted by Him the 
apostles would not have ordered it to be received, 
nor could they have promised the grace it conveys. 

2. The visible sign is the unction with oil (the oil 
being specially consecrated for this purpose by the 
bishop on Holy Thursday) with this form of words: 
" Through this holy unction, and through His most 
tender mercy, may the Lord pardon thee whatever 
sins thou hast committed by seeing, hearing, smell- 
ing, taste, and speech. Amen." 

Oil was chosen as the visible sign in this sacra- 
ment by Jesus Christ for the same reason that 
water was chosen for Baptism. As water signifies 
the grace conferred by the Sacrament of Baptism 

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242 The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

upon the soul, so oil signifies what is the operation 
of the sacrament upon the sick who receive it. The 
Roman Catechism says: u As oil does much towards 
the mitigation of physical pain, so this sacrament 
has virtue to alleviate spiritual sorrow and distress. 
Oil, moreover, restores to health ; it is a cause of 
cheerfulness, for it is the nutriment of light. It 
also has the property of restoring strength to 
wearied limbs. All this is symbolical of the effect 
of divine grace within the soul of the sick man 
when this sacrament is administered." 

3. This sacrament is called extreme unction — 
the Christian receives the first unction at Baptism, 
the second when he is confirmed and the anointing 
of the sick is the last unction which Christ has au- 
thorized the Church to give. Consequently this 
sacrament has been called by the Fathers the con- 
summation — the ending, that is — of the Christian 
life. The expression " extreme or last unction" is 
also intended to remind the sick man who is in dan- 
ger of death that this sacrament was appointed for 
his succor and solace. 

4. Every orthodox Christian can receive this 
sacrament if he has come to years of discretion and 
is capable of committing sin. Thus it can be ad- 
ministered to children who have not yet made their 
first communion, but who can go to confession. 
Only those who are really sick may receive it, 
among whom are included the aged suffering from 
the infirmities of years, because senile decay is in 

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The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 243 

itself an illness. But it must not be given to per- 
sons in health who are about to expose themselves, 
or who actually are exposed, to danger of death, 
nor to criminals before their execution, nor to those 
who are from their birth imbecile or demented, 
unless they have lucid intervals. But the sacra- 
ment must not be denied to the insane if they 
formerly had the gift of reason. It is to be admin- 
istered to all who are at the point of death, even if 
they are in a state of unconsciousness and have 
expressed no desire for the sacrament, provided 
they have led a Christian life : for we must act 
upon the supposition that they would have desired 
it had they been in possession of their senses. 

5. The Christian rinding himself in danger of 
death is bound under pain of sin to receive the 
Sacrament of Extreme Unction, if thia is possi- 
ble — because every one is bound to make use 
of all the means appointed for his soul's salva- 
tion, and by not receiving it he gives scandal 
and shows disrespect towards the sacrament. On 
this account it is the duty of the sick man's rela- 
tives to send for the priest when the right time 
comes, thereby following the beautiful example of 
the sisters of Lazarus, who sent to Jesus, saying : 
" Lord, behold he whom Thou lovest is sick." (John 
xi. 3.) 

6. It appertains to the office of a priest to ad- 
minister Extreme Unction, since to priests alone 
do the words of St. Paul refer ; " Let a man so ac- 

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244 The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

count of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the 
dispensers of the mysteries of God." (i Cor. iv. i.) 

The Church anathematizes every one who ven- 
tures to assert that by the priests the apostle James 
mentions we are not to understand those ministers 
who have been duly ordained and admitted to the 
priesthood by the bishop. In the whole of the 
Church's annals no single instance is to be met 
with of any one else administering the holy oils. 

7. The sacramental grace which is conveyed to 
the soul of the sick, in addition to sanctifying 
grace, is of a threefold nature: 

a. Granted contrition of heart, venial sins are 
forgiven and mortal sins are blotted out, even if 
the sick man is unconscious or deprived of the 
power of speech, so as to be unable to make his 

b. The remains of sin are wiped away in pro- 
portion to the depth of the contrition. By these 
are meant proneness of the heart to evil and infir- 
mity of will. Moreover, theologians tell us that, ac- 
cording to the dispositions of the individual, more or 
less of the temporal penalties due to him are re- 

c. The sick man is strengthened, so as more 
easily to resist temptations in the hour of death, to 
bear patiently the pains of sickness, and to pass 
through his last agony with resignation. Thus 
physical death is for the just the entrance to eternal 
life, whereas for the sinner death in time is the 

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The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 245 

commencement of death for all eternity. The 
Sacrament of Extreme Unction robs death of its 
terrors, the grave of its victory. 

8. Sometimes a corporal benefit is attached to the 
Sacrament of Extreme Unction, namely, the re- 
covery of health. This effect is, however, only a 
qualified one, for sooner or later the body must die, 
and by recovery from illness death may be postponed 
for a time, not averted altogether. It is the will of 
God that the sinner should be converted ; it is also 
His will that all men should die and pay their tribute 
to death. Thus restoration to health is quite inde- 
pendent of forgiveness of sin, and the latter may 
be conferred without the former. The former is a 
gift dependent on the will of God, the worthiness of 
the individual, and the measure of his faith. 

9. By the " prayer of faith " is meant the prayer 
which accompanies the unction with oil. The 
effect of this prayer may be increased by the faith 
of the priest and of the bystanders. For since, as 
we are taught to believe, every member of the 
Church participates in the merits of all the mem- 
bers collectively, so the sick man shares in the 
blessings called down from above by the prayers of 
those who are present. We know, besides, that God 
often grants to the prayers of the just graces which 
He would not otherwise bestow. This is unques- 
tionably apparent from the story of the healing of 
the paralytic who was brought in a bed to Jesus. 
As the men who carried him could not bring him 

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246 The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

in because of the multitude, they went up on the 
roof and let him down with his bed into the midst 
before Jesus. Thereupon, it is expressly stated, 
" whose faith when Jesus saw [the faith, that is, of 
the men who brought him] He said, Man, thy 
sins are forgiven thee." (Luke v. 20.) Hence we 
see that the faith of relatives and others who are 
present, as well as of the priest, has power to aug- 
ment divine grace. 

10. The name of the sacrament, " Extreme 
Unction," reminds us of the end of life, and conse- 
quently it often happens that the sick are alarmed 
if it is mentioned to them and their relatives shrink 
from urging them to receive it. That is of a truth 
false kindness ; it proves, too, a great want of faith, 
which is the most important requisite for the recep- 
tion of this sacrament. In such a case the Sa- 
viour's words are applicable : "A man's enemies 
shall be they of his own household." (Matt. x. 36.) 

As the sick man must be spiritually alive, must, 
that is, be in a state of grace, he ought, before he is 
anointed, to cleanse his soul in the Sacrament of 
Penance and receive the sacred viaticum. For 
this he must be in a condition of perfect conscious- 
ness and able to make acts of the theological vir- 
tues, of contrition and compunction. Only in 
exceptional cases can excuses be made for not 
summoning the priest in time, when unconscious- 
ness sets in suddenly and unexpectedly. The 
Roman Catechism says : " Those persons do very 

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Historical Evidence. 


wrong who wait to have the sick anointed until all 
hope of their recovery is at an end, their senses 
begin to grow dim, and the dulness of death creeps 
over them ; for it adds immeasurably to the 
amount of grace received by the sick man if he be 
anointed with the holy oils while in full pos- 
session of his senses and understanding, and while 
he can join in the prayers with faith and fervent 
sincerity of heart." 

11. Although the Sacrament of Extreme Unction 
must only be received once in one and the self- 
same illness, yet it may be received again in other 
illnesses or in different dangerous crises of the same. 
Thus it belongs to those sacraments which can be 
received more than once. 

12. The eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, hands, and 
feet are anointed, as being the organs and instru- 
ments of the five senses wherewith we have trans- 

Historical Evidence* 

Shortly after Our Lord had chosen His apostles 
He sent them out and gave them power over un- 
clean spirits. The apostles, going forth, preached 
that men should do penance, and prepared their 
minds for the reception of Christ's doctrine. "And 
they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil 
many that were sick, and healed them." (Mark vi. 
13.) This anointing has no connection with the 
Sacrament of Extreme Unction. It is simply an 

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248 The Sacrament of Extreme Unction. 

anointing with consecrated oil; such may be per- 
formed by any orthodox Christian, and in former 
times was often performed, for consecrated oil is 
one of the sacramentals, like holy water. 

The Sacrament of Extreme Unction may not be 
dispensed even by deacons, but by priests only. In 
all the Churches of the East, the Greek, Armenian, 
Coptic, Nestorian, and others, this anointing of the 
sick is one of the sacraments— a sure proof that it 
is not an arbitrary institution of the Catholic Church. 
In the Greek Church, however, three or seven 
priests take part in administering the oils. In ear- 
lier times it was customary to repeat the unction for 
seven consecutive days. The Church of Rome has 
modified the ritual in order that the sick man may 
have the graces of the sacrament all the sooner, 
since it is always a matter of difficulty, often of 
impossibility, to procure the presence of so many 

The Order of Administering Extreme Unction* 

If one who is sick is to receive Extreme Unction 
let notice be given as soon as possible to the parish 
priest, or his substitute, in order that a time may 
be fixed which will suit his convenience as well as 
that of the sick man. The latter should then pre- 
pare himself carefully, since as a general rule he 
ought to receive the Sacraments of Penance and of 
the Altar previously, to make sure of his being in a 

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Order of Administering Extreme Unction. 249 

state of grace. Those who attend upon the sick 
man must wash his face, hands, and feet, change 
his linen and, if possible, that which is on the bed 
as well. Let the room also be aired and put in 
order and everything unpleasant to the sight re- 
moved. Then let a table be placed in the room, 
covered with a clean linen cloth, with a crucifix 
upon it, and two, or at least one, burning taper. 
Let fine pieces of cotton-wool (or some similar 
substance) be placed in readiness upon a plate, 
with a piece of soft bread, salt, a handkerchief, a 
vessel containing holy water, and a glass of plain 

When the priest enters the sick-room with the 
Most Holy Sacrament let the attendants meet him 
at the door, carrying lighted tapers ; then kneel 
down and recite the Rosary at a distance while the 
sick man's confession is heard. If the priest does 
not bring the Blessed Sacrament the candles need 
not be lighted until the confession is ended. Then 
let those who are present remain on their knees 
while the holy unction is administered. When the 
ceremony is over it is well to leave the sick man 
alone for a short space of time, that he may make 
his thanksgiving, or, if he be unable to do so him- 
self, some assistance may be rendered to him. 
The bread, the salt, and the wool with which the 
priest has wiped his fingers must be thrown into 
the fire, and the handkerchief must be washed be- 
fore being used for any other purpose. 

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ttbe Sacrament of f)olg ©tfters. 

As the proneness to sin was handed down from 
generation to generation of mankind, it was neces- 
sary that, as an antidote thereto, the means of grace 
should also be handed down. For this reason Our 
Lord founded a Church and instituted a priesthood, 
whereby the graces of redemption might be dis- 
pensed to the faithful. Those who are called to 
the priesthood receive in the Sacrament of Holy 
Orders authority and power to dispense the means 
of grace. 

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament 
whereby sacerdotal power is given to those who 
receive it, and special grace conferred for the right 
exercise of their sacred ministry. 

i. Even in primeval ages, before the written law 
was given to the Jews, before the days of Moses, 
there existed among all nations, both religious be- 
liefs and acts of divine worship and of sacrifice, 
and accordingly persons who in virtue of their 
office performed those acts, and were on that ac- 
count held in particular veneration by the people as 
being the chosen ministers of God. Melchisedech, 
king of Salem, who offered bread and wine, was one 

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The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 251 

of these ministers, for it is said of him, " He was the 
priest of the most high God." (Gen. xiv. 18.) As 
we meet with no nation without sacrifices, so we 
meet with no nation that has not priests. 

2. In the time of the written law the priesthood was 
instituted by God Himself. Immediately after the 
ten commandments had been given to the children 
of Israel the Lord showed Moses how the taber- 
nacle was to be made, prescribed the ceremonial of 
divine worship, and chose Aaron, with his sons 
Nadab, Abiu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, to be priests. 
Moses was commanded to anoint them with the 
sacred oil of unction and with the blood of a sacri- 
ficial victim. (Lev. viii. 30.) "And after Aaron had 
offered sacrifice, stretching forth his hands to the 
people, he blessed them. And thus he finished the 
victims for sin, and the holocausts and the peace- 
offerings." (Lev. ix. 22.) It was the office of the 
priests alone to look to all things that appertained 
to the service of the altar and were within the 
veil. (Numb, xviii. 7.) In the other duties of the 
ministry the priests were assisted by the sons of 
Levi ; but the latter were strictly charged, under 
pain of death, not to presume to do anything which 
it was the priests' prerogative to do. " They shall 
not touch the vessels of the sanctuary, lest they 
die." (Numb. iv. 15.) Now if God Himself ap- 
pointed a class apart for the service of the sanctu- 
ary under the Old Dispensation, what wonder if 
He confided the administration of the sacraments 

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252 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

of the New Testament, especially the sacraments of 
reconciliation — that is to say, the Sacraments of 
Penance and of the Altar — only to priests chosen 
for and consecrated to this office ? 

3. Our Lord came into this world to offer the 
greatest of all sacrifices, to offer Himself to His 
heavenly Father. He is the " priest according to 
the order of Melchisedech." (Ps. cix. 4.) This 
sacrificial office will remain in the Church until the 
end of time; consequently the priesthood must con- 
tinue throughout all ages of the Church's existence. 
Our Lord instituted Holy Orders at the Last Sup- 
per, when He said to the disciples : " This is My 
body, which was given for you ; this is My blood, 
which was shed for you. Do this in commemora- 
tion of Me." (Luke xxii. 19, 20.) The work of 
reconciliation also, which consists in the forgive- 
ness of sins, must, in consideration of human in- 
firmity, be carried on throughout all time for the 
benefit of the repentant sinner. For this cause on 
the very day of Our Lord's Resurrection the apos- 
tles received .the Holy Ghost and were given au- 
thority for this intent: "Whose sins you shall 
forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you 
shall retain, they are retained." (John xx. 23.) 
The apostles were to exercise this power as the 
representatives of Christ, for He expressly said to 
them: " As the Father hath sent Me, I also send 
you." (John xx. 21.) Thus the apostles became 
Christ's representatives. 

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The Sacrament of Holy Orders, 253 

4. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders the external 
sign is the imposition of hands and the prayer pro- 
nounced by the bishop, the delivering to the recip- 
ients of ordination the paten with the Host and the 
chalice with the wine, besides the anointing of the 
hands, which are to be instrumental in performing 
the sacred rites. When the Holy Ghost said to those 
who were set over the Church at Antioch: " Separate 
Me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I 
have taken them," they, fasting and praying, and im- 
posing their hands on them, sent them away. (Acts 
xiii. 1-3.) Then Paul and Barnabas made themselves 
ready for their missionary journey. They in their 
turn ordained and appointed some of the elder men 
over every community wherever they went, with 
fasting and prayer. Timothy did the same at 
Ephesus, and we find St. Paul warning him to be 
prudent in the choice of priests : " Impose not 
hands lightly upon any man," he writes to him in 
his first epistle. (1 Tim. v. 22.) He also exhorts 
him thus : " Neglect not the grace that is in thee, 
which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition 
of the hands of the priesthood." (1 Tim. iv. 14.) 
And again: " I admonish thee, that thou stir up the 
grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of 
my hands." (2 Tim. i. 6.) Hence we see that God 
has attached to the laying on of hands, the outward 
sign, an inward sanctifying grace. Here, then, is 
all that which constitutes a sacrament. 

5. The writings of the Fathers of the Church 

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254 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

and the utterances of the Councils leave no doubt 
as to the imposition of the apostles' hands being no 
mere supplication to obtain the divine benediction, 
but a real sacramental act. St. Jerome distinctly calls 
it the Sacrament of Ordination, and it was accom- 
panied by the same operations of grace that neces- 
sarily accompany a sacrament, and a sacrament 
only. If it be alleged in contradiction to this that 
St. Peter speaks of all believing Christians without 
exception as a kingly priesthood, a holy nation 
(i Pet. ii. 9), we answer that these words are to be 
understood in the same sense as those which God 
spoke to the Israelites : You shall be to Me a 
priestly kingdom, a holy nation. All the faithful 
cannot be priests, any more than all the Israelites 
could be kings. But just as the people of Israel 
constituted a priestly kingdom, so the faithful form 
a kingly priesthood, the body of the Church, whose 
head is Jesus Christ, the bishop of our souls. 
(1 Pet. ii. 25.) St. Paul, addressing the believers, 
says expressly : " You are the body of Christ, and 
members of member. And God indeed hath set 
some in the Church, first apostles, secondly proph- 
ets, thirdly doctors. . . . Are all apostles, are 
all prophets, are all doctors ? " (1 Cor. xii. 27-29.) 
Thus the Apostle himself testifies that there are 
diversities of ministries in the Church instituted by 
God Himself. 

It is true that in Holy Scripture those who 
under the New Testament were in authority over 

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The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 255 

the Christian congregation are termed elders 
(presbyteri, whence comes the name of priest). 
The reason of this is not far to seek : As long as 
the Christians were to a great extent mixed up 
with the Jews it was not thought expedient to 
call the Christian ministers by the same name as 
the Jewish lest they should be mistaken one for the 
other. But as soon as the Temple and the service 
of the Temple were at an end those who were the 
dispensers of the holy mysteries received the same 
designation as that borne by those who served the 
altar under the Old Covenant, sacerdotes, or sacred 
gifts — that is, those who are consecrated to the 
service of God. The successors of the apostles 
were called episcopi — bishops or overseers over the 
ordinary priests. That there was a great difference 
between the authority exercised by the bishop and 
that exercised by the ordinary priest, and that this 
difference was recognized at the time the epistles 
were written, cannot be denied. 

6. Holy Orders, like Baptism and Confirmation, 
imprint upon the soul an indelible character. St. 
Augustine says : Baptism and Holy Orders give a 
certain consecration to him who receives them, 
and therefore neither the one nor the other can be 
received more than once. Consequently apostate 
priests, if they repent and return to the Church ; • 
are not reordained. Ordination by the bishops of 
the Eastern Church, which is schismatical, but not 
heretical, is recognized as valid, because the for- 

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256 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

mularies in use before the schism are still retained. 
It is otherwise with the bishops of the Anglican 
Church ; they have no power to ordain. 

7. That it is the special prerogative of bishops 
to ordain priests, and that simple priests possess no 
such powers, is a doctrine taught by the Fathers 
and confirmed by Councils. Were a priest to pre- 
sume to arrogate to himself this power he would 
not only perform an unlawful act, but his ordina- 
tion would be utterly invalid; the recipient thereof 
would be in all respects the same as he was 

With Holy Orders when administered by a right- 
ful bishop the ordained receive power to exercise 
all functions appertaining to the priesthood. Here 
we must observe that forgiving sins is , a judicial 
as well as a sacerdotal act, to effect which it is 
necessary to obtain special faculties from the eccle- 
siastical authority, i.e., the bishop. As the bishop 
has the right for weighty reasons to suspend a 
priest for a time from the exercise of his sacred 
ministry, so he has power to authorize a priest to 
exercise all his priestly functions with the excep- 
tion of administering the Sacrament of Penance. 
In virtue of the obedience he promises to his eccle- 
siastical superiors a priest is obliged to serve in 
« the vineyard of the Lord wherever his bishop may 
send him ; nor may he quit his post without the 
bishop's sanction. Hence it follows that in the 
exercise of his sacerdotal powers the priest is sub- 

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Dignity of Sacerdotal Office. 257 

ject only to the bishop's authority ; no one else 
can give them, and no one else can forbid him to 
employ them. The civil authority may forcibly 
prevent a priest from exercising his powers, but it 
is impotent to deprive him of them or to render 
their operation invalid. Nor is it able to grant 
sacerdotal powers to a layman or episcopal powers 
to a priest. 

The High Dignity of the Sacerdotal Office, 
and the Respect which is due to Priests. 

The saintly bishop and martyr Ignatius of Anti- 
och says : " The dignity of the priest is marvellous 
and amazing, lofty, immeasurable, and infinite." 
And St. Jerome says : " Although the powers of 
the priesthood are exercised on earth, they are to 
be reckoned among heavenly things." 

St. Ephrem of Syria exclaims : " O wondrous 
miracle, power inexpressible, awful mystery of the 
priesthood ! It is a mystic and sacred calling, a 
sublime and exalted office, which since the coming 
of Christ to earth it is granted to us unworthy 
mortals to fill ! It is a shield resplendent beyond 
compare, an impenetrable wall, a foundation firm 
and immovable, extending from earth to heaven. 
Words fail me to extol aright the vast dignity of 
the priesthood ; it surpasses all we can pray for, 
all we can understand, all we can imagine," 

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258 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

From the testimonies of these holy men, of which 
a great number might be adduced, it will be seen 
how exalted was the idea entertained of the priestly 
office by the early Christians, and how great was 
the veneration in which they held those who were 
chosen by God to stand at His altar. And surely 
we shall not regard the utterances, of these men, 
who were enlightened by the Holy Ghost, to be 
exaggerated if we consider 

1. That priests are the representatives of Christ, 
according to His own unequivocal statement : 
" He that heareth you, heareth Me ; and he that 
despiseth you, despiseth Me ; and he that de- 
spiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me." (Luke 
x. 16.) 

St. Chrysostom thus expounds those words : 
" He that honors the priest honors Christ, and he 
that despises the priest despises Christ." Where- 
fore if the representatives of earthly sovereigns 
are treated with profound respect for the sake of 
their masters, what honor are we not bound to show 
to priests, who, in as far as they are concerned 
with our souls' salvation, are far above the princes 
and monarchs of this world. They are the true 
kingly priesthood, the holy nation. (1 Pet. ii. 9.) 

2. The priests, as Christ's representatives, are 
also the dispensers of grace to us mortals, for 
through their instrumentality we receive all the 
graces which God in His mercy destines for us, all 
that we need for the accomplishment in us of the 

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Dignity of Sacerdotal Office. 


work of redemption. By them we are cleansed 
from sin and sanctified in the Sacrament of Bap- 
tism and the Sacrament of Penance. By them we 
are fortified by the communication of the Holy 
Ghost in the Sacrament of Confirmation. By them 
our souls are nourished with the body and blood 
of Our Lord. They stand by us in the last awful 
hour, the hour of death. Their blessing knits the 
nuptial bond. They awaken the sinner's conscience 
and bring him back to God ; they also comfort 
those who are cast down and raise them up again. 
They are the physicians of the soul ; in each of 
them we have a friend, a guide, a guardian angel 
upon earth. God saves the world through their 
means. A power is given to them which no angel 
is privileged to possess, for in the holy sacrifice 
of the Mass they call down the Son of God to 
earth and they raise man to heaven above. The 
Apostle is therefore warranted in saying : " Let a 
man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, 
and the dispensers of the mysteries of God." (i 
Cor. iv. i.) 

The priest is, moreover, our fntercessor with 
God : " Every high priest taken from among men is 
ordained for men in the things that appertain to 
God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for 
sins." (Heb. v. i.) 

The priest does not usurp this office of himself, 
he is called by God to fill this exalted post : 
" Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, 

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260 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

but he that is called of God, as Aaron was." (Heb. 
v. 4.) Accordingly in the ordination service the 
bishop reminds the candidates for the priesthood 
of Our Lord's words : " You have not chosen Me, 
but I have chosen you." (John xv. 16.) 

3. Priests are our teachers, who instruct us in all 
things belonging to salvation. They are the pastors 
appointed by God to lead and guide us in the right 
way. Jesus, the chief shepherd, has entrusted us 
to their care, and for us they will have to give ac- 
count. It behooves us to obey them, as the Apostle 
admonishes us : " Obey your prelates and be sub- 
ject to them. For they watch as being to render 
an account of your souls ; that they may do this 
with joy, and not with grief." (Heb. xiii. 17.) The 
more we honor our priests,.obey them, support them 
in all their work, the greater will be the blessing at- 
tendant on their labors, the more glorious the fruit 
which the priesthood will produce. The enemy of 
the priest is the enemy of Christ. 

4. And as in all things that are commanded us 
it is possible to act contrary to the will of God, so 
a man may thrust himself into the priesthood with- 
out being called. To do so is a grievous sin ; it 
may be termed a perpetual act of sacrilege. There- 
fore let all aspirants to the priesthood examine 
themselves seriously to ascertain whether they are 
really called thereto. Nor should they content 
themselves with looking into their own hearts, but 
let them take counsel of some discreet person, their 

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Dignity of Sacerdotal Office. 261 

confessor above all, and their spiritual superiors, 
for the eyes of others are not unfrequently sharper 
than our own, and are able to detect failings which 
we ourselves do not perceive. 

There are, however, several tests by which a man 
can discern whether his vocation be a true one. For 
instance, one who is enslaved by some bad habit, 
and lacks resolution of will or feels he has not the 
power to rid himself of it, is not fit for the priest- 

Even under the Old Dispensation it was decreed 
that " whosoever of the seed of Aaron, the priest, 
has a blemish shall not approach to offer sacrifices 
to the Lord." (Lev. xxi. 21.) Any one who is 
compelled to acknowledge to himself that he is de- 
void of the spirit of devotion and piety indispensa- 
ble for the functions of the sacred ministry cer- 
tainly has no vocation to it. We read that Moses 
of old said to Aaron : " This is what the Lord hath 
spoken : I will be sanctified in them that approach 
to Me, and I will be glorified in the sight of all the 
people." (Lev. x. 3.) 

Nor are those truly called to the priesthood who 
seek admission to that holy state, not out of the 
love of God, but for the sake of temporal advan- 
tage, as a means of getting their living, in view of 
soon obtaining some lucrative post, promotion to 
high dignities, from family consideration, or some 
such motive. He who aspires to be a priest ought 
to be actuated by the wish to serve God out of pure 

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262 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

love, without any secondary object. He ought to 
be prepared to forsake father, mother, relatives, 
riches, honors, and all the pleasures of life, if neces- 
sary, and say with Peter : " Behold we have left all 
things and have followed Thee." (Matt. xix. 27.) 

It would be wrong for any one, even from the 
best of motives, to seek admission to the sacer- 
dotal state without possessing the knowledge neces- 
sary for this high calling, for priests ought to be the 
teachers of the Christian flock, well read in Holy 
Writ, well acquainted with the claims of the Church 
and the duties of her children, well able to pro- 
claim the word of God and refute errors. " The lips 
of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall 
seek the law at his mouth, because he is the angel 
of the Lord of hosts." (Mai. ii. 7.) 

5. Parents who force their sons to take Holy Or- 
ders in order later on to gain some advantage for 
themselves or their families, or from any other base 
and interested motive, are no less to blame than the 
men who thrust themselves unworthily into the 
priesthood. By acting in this manner parents be- 
come responsible for whatever sins their sons may 
commit, whatever scandal they may give. Of them 
it may be said: " They are blind, and leaders of the 
blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall 
into the pit." (Matt. xv. 14.) 

6. The following are infallible notes of a true 
vocation to the priesthood: delight in prayer and 
divine worship, abhorrence of all that is evil, an 

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The Ceremonial of Ordination. 263 

earnest desire to serve God in the person of one's 
neighbor, pleasure in the study of Holy Scripture, 
intense love for the Catholic Church, together with 
encouragement on the part of enlightened priests 
and the consent of ecclesiastical superiors. 

He who embraces the sacerdotal state from right 
motives and from pure love of God will exercise 
the powers of this high calling for the benefit of 
mankind in general and the welfare of his own soul 
in particular. He will seek neither riches nor dig- 
nities; his reward awaits him in heaven. God Him- 
self will be his reward; He will say to him as to 
Abraham of old: " I am thy protector, and thy re- 
ward exceeding great." (Gen. xv. 1.) 

The Ceremonial of Ordination* 

When those who are called to serve God in the 
sacred ministry of the altar have passed through the 
six grades which lead up to the priesthood, and have 
duly prepared themselves by the reception of the 
holy Sacrament of Penance, they are presented to 
the bishop by a priest of some standing, who fulfils 
the duties of an archdeacon. This is done during 
the celebration of Mass, immediately after the read- 
ing of the Epistle. The bishop makes special in- 
quiries as to the worthiness of the candidates 
presented to him, and upon the archdeacon reply- 
ing that, as far as human frailty allows, he both 
knows and testifies them to be worthy of the burden 

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264 The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

of the office he proceeds to address the candidates. 
The litany of the saints is then recited, after which 
they go up to the bishop and kneel before him two 
and two. He lays both hands on the head of each 
individual, and all the priests present — of whom 
there must be at least three — do the same in turn. 
The bishop then crosses the stole over the chest of 
each of the recipients of ordination, and vests him 
in the chasuble, which is worn hanging down in 
front, but rolled up behind. The hymn Vent Crea- 
tor Spiritus is then intoned. The bishop meanwhile 
anoints both the hands of each candidate, which are 
held out side by side, the bishop drawing a line 
from the thumb of the right hand to the first finger 
of the left, and again from the thumb of the left 
hand to the first finger of the right, with the prayer 
that by this unction God would consecrate and 
sanctify the hands of the priest, as the representa- 
tive of Christ, that whatever they bless may be 
blessed, and whatever they sanctify may remain 
sanctified. The paten with the Host and the chal- 
ice containing the wine, are then delivered to the 
newly-ordained, while the bishop addresses to each 
one the words: " Receive power to sacrifice to God 
and offer Mass, as well for the living as for the dead, 
in the name of the Lord. Amen." 

The newly consecrated priests, making immedi- 
ate use of the powers conferred on them, celebrate 
Mass with the bishop, repeating the words of the 
canon with him from the Offertory onward; at the 

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'"foe tbat bcarctb sou, bearetb tec, ant> be tbat besplsetb you, 
sespigetb flDe."— Xufce x. 16. 


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Reflection. — To perpetuate in His Church the 
means of leading men to heaven, our divine Saviour 
instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders, by which 
priests are ordained and bishops consecrated. Their 
mission is to continue and perpetuate on earth the 
work of the redemption The priest is a second Christ, 
for, like Christ, he preaches the Gospel, offers to God 
the sacrifice of the New Law — the holy sacrifice of the 
Mass, feeds and governs the flock of Christ, forgives 
sins, changes the bread and wine into the body and 
blood of Jesus Christ, and administers the sacraments. 
No created dignity equals the dignity of the priesthood, 
for it is invested with powers truly divine, and repre- 
sents Jesus Christ on earth. 

Practice. — Let us revere and obey our holy Father 
the Pope, as we would Jesus Christ Himself, for he is 
Christ's vicar on earth, having received from Him 
through St. Peter the supreme power to rule and govern 
the whole flock of Christ. Let us revere, obey and 
pray for our bishop, for God has given him charge 
over us ; let us revere, obey and pray for our pastor 
also, for to him is entrusted the immediate care of our 
soul, and he is bound to devote for our spiritual welfare 
his talents, his energy, his time and even his very life. 
Let us be grateful to our ecclesiastical superiors and 
refrain from criticising them and causing them pain. 

Prayer. — O my divine Saviour, I thank Thee for 
having instituted the priesthood in Thy Church to repre- 
sent Thee on earth, to continue Thy work and to feed 
and govern Thy flock. Bless our holy Father the 
Pope, our bishop, our pastor, and grant them all the 
graces they need to discharge their office faithfully. 
O Mary, obtain for me the grace always to be a duti - 
ful child of the Catholic Church. Amen. 

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The Ceremonial of Ordination. 265 

communion they receive the Sacrament from the 
bishop's hands. They next repeat the Creed, and 
the bishop again lays his hands on the head of each 
one of them, saying: " Receive the Holy Ghost ; 
whose sins thou shalt forgive they are forgiven him, 
and whose sins thou retainest they are retained." 

The chasuble, which was rolled up upon the back 
of the newly ordained priests, is now let down to its 
full length, as a token that they are now invested 
with the plenitude of the sacerdotal power, the 
bishop saying meanwhile : " May the Lord clothe 
thee with the garment of innocence." 

A very important part of the ceremony now follows : 
The newly made priest, kneeling before the bishop, 
places his hands in the hands of the bishop, who asks 
him: " Dost thou promise reverence and obedience 
to me and to my successors ? " The newly ordained 
answers: " I promise it." Then the bishop embraces 
him, saying : " The peace of the Lord be always 
with thee." Thus a covenant is made between priest 
and bishop ; the priest stands by the bishop as his 
assistant ; the bishop indicates to him his sphere 
of work in the Lord's vineyard, which he must not 
abandon without permission. Finally, the bishop 
delivers a short exhortation to those whom he has 

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The Sacrament of Holy Orders. 

Practical Application. 

i. Let the Catholic ever bear in mind the words 
of the son of Sirach : " With all thy soul fear the 
Lord, and reverence His priests." (Ecclus. vii. 31.) 
Let him, therefore, never be wanting in those out- 
ward marks of respect which it is usual to pay to 
the clergy. Those priests are to be held in special 
reverence who perform their duties in a conscien- 
tious manner ; as the Apostle says : " Let the 
priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double 
honor : especially they who labor in the word and 
doctrine." (1 Tim. v. 17.) 

There are, unhappily, some priests who are for- 
getful of their duty and whose conduct causes 
scandal. But a good Catholic will never show dis- 
respect even to such as those, for they are conse- 
crated to God, and the sacraments they adminis- 
ter have no less virtue, the graces are no less 
efficacious, than when they are dispensed by more 
worthy ministers. In every class of men there 
must be some faulty individuals, and many things 
are regarded as faults in a priest which in a lay- 
man would not be considered as blameworthy. 

Above all, let us beware of talking about the 
imperfections of priests, of finding fault with their 
sermons, their arrangements, their directions, and 
thereby diminishing their usefulness and the es- 
teem in which they are held. If a priest wrongs 
any one he has ecclesiastical superiors who will see 
that justice is done. 

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The Ceremonial of Ordination. 267 

2. Outward marks of respect ought to be accom- 
panied by inward affection. A good Christian 
feels love for his priests and prays for them. He 
implores for them of God the enlightenment, 
power, and force that they need. Moreover, he is 
constant in prayer that the Lord may send laborers 
into His vineyard, for the words of the Gospel are 
no less true now than when they were uttered : 
" The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are 
few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, 
that He send forth laborers into His harvest." 
(Matt. ix. 37, 38.) 

3. Although priests ought not to aim at acquir- 
ing money and property, yet they must live, and 
they ought to be provided with means to support 
them comfortably. A priest cannot now live by 
the labor of his hands, as St. Paul, who was a 
tent-maker, did in his day ; all his time, his energy, 
his skill must be devoted to the service of the 
souls confided to his charge. 

St. Paul himself allows : " So also the Lord or- 
dained that they who preach the Gospel should 
live by the Gospel. ,, (1 Cor. ix. 14.) Therefore 
let the pious Catholic contribute willingly and 
largely to the support of his pastor, in order to 
place him in a position to help the sick and needy, 
and that it may be said of him, as it was said of 
his divine Master : 4< He went about doing good." 
(Acts x. 38.) 

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TTbe Sacrament of Aatrtmons* 

Christian society ought to be a holy society, 
therefore its members ought to be sanctified. For 
this reason God has appointed a means of grace 
which provides for the propagation of this society 
and at the same time for its sanctification. 

Matrimony is that sacrament whereby an indis- 
soluble and sacred union is contracted between 
two persons of opposite sexes, and grace is given 
them to enable them to live together in a Christian 
manner and bring up their children in the fear of 

Marriage is a natural union for life between man 
and woman, and as such was instituted by God in 
paradise. As it was intended for the propagation 
of the human race, God implanted in the nature of 
man a desire for it. Marriage was also destined to 
be a means of mutual help for the contracting 

After God had created Adam He said : " It is 
not good for man to be alone : let us make him a 
help like unto himself." (Gen. ii. 18.) And He 
caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and took 

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The Sacrament of Matrimony. 269 

one of his ribs and filled up the place with flesh. 
" And the Lord God built the rib which he took 
from Adam into a woman, and brought her to 
Adam. . And Adam said: This is bone of my 
bones and flesh of my flesh ; she shall be called 
woman, because she was taken out of man. Where- 
fore a man shall leave father and mother and shall 
cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one 
flesh." (Gen. ii. 22-24.) " And God blessed them, 
saying : Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, 
and subdue it." (Gen. i. 28.) 

Thus we see marriage to have been instituted by 
God Himself. Here we must remark : 

1. Matrimony is the union of one man and one 
woman. Their union lost this character, it is true, 
after the fall, but up to the time of Noe only one 
instance is recorded of a plurality of wives, that of 
Lamech, who had two wives. After the deluge 
polygamy was permitted by God to accelerate the 
increase and the spread of the human race, but it 
was exceptional among the Jews. The majority of 
men had and could have but one wife. The case 
of a woman having several husbands has never 
been known. Christ Our Lord, the spiritual re- 
storer of mankind, reinstated matrimony in its 
former place by raising it to the dignity of a sac- 

2. Matrimony was, as we have already seen, an 
indissoluble union, since man and wife were but one 
flesh, When this essential feature of marriage wa$ 

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270 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

obscured by sin, not only among the heathen nations, 
but also among the Jews, Our Lord Himself estab- 
lished it anew. We read that at one time the Phari- 
sees came to Him, tempting Him, and asked Him : 
" Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every 
cause ? Who answering, said to them: Have ye not 
read, that He who made man from the beginning, 
made them male and female ? And He said : For 
this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and 
shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one 
flesh ; therefore now they are not two, but one 
flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, 
let no man put asunder. They say to Him: Why 
then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, 
and to put away ? He saith to them: Because Moses 
by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted 
you to put away your wives: but from the begin- 
ning it was not so. And I say to you, that who- 
soever shall put away his wife, except it be for 
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth 
adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put 
away, committeth adultery." (Matt. xix. 3-9.) 

All dissolution of this union is absolutely forbid- 
den, only a cessation of personal intercourse is per- 
mitted; consequently no man can marry a woman 
who is separated from her husband without incur- 
ring the guilt of adultery, even though the cause of 
the separation was adultery. And as the bond still 
exists after the separation has taken place, the man 
who has put away his wife on account of her adul- 

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The Sacrament of Matrimony. 


tery is not at liberty to take another, or he himself 
is likewise an adulterer. 

3. The unity and the indissolubility of the mar- 
riage bond follow as a necessary consequence from 
the nature of the intercourse of husband and wife, 
and is equally indispensable on account of the 
bringing up of the children. 

a. Each of the contracting parties in marriage 
demands for himself or herself the entire and unre- 
served surrender of the other, with all his or her 
physical faculties, bodily and mental powers, each 
one giving himself or herself wholly and solely to 
the other. For one of the two to suspend this inti- 
mate and perfect partnership would be doing a 
decided wrong to the other. And this injury would 
often be done if the married did not know before- 
hand that a severance of their union is unlawful. 
This is proved by the unhappy example of the sects, 
which, having fallen away from the Church, permit 
divorced persons to remarry during the lifetime of 
their former partners. 

b. The training of the children can only be car- 
ried on successfully if father and mother regard 
this as their mutual duty, and look upon their chil- 
dren as pledges of their mutual love, for whom they 
will have to give account, as of a treasure confided to 
their charge. How sad it is when married people 
separate, and one of the two leaves home, without 
being able and perhaps without being willing to take 
the children with him or her ; or when a family is 

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272 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

broken up, the sons, it may be, going with their 
father, the daughters remaining with the mother. 
How painful for the one parent, and for the chil- 
dren, who are thus parted from one another, and 
compelled to reside in other families, where they 
are strangers, and to know nothing thenceforward of 
their own father or mother, as the case may be, to- 
wards whom they have solemn duties and who are 
bound to them by close ties. Is that a marriage 
such as God instituted, as Christ sanctified ? 

c. Matrimony is typical of the union of Christ 
with the Church. Now the union of Christ with the 
Church is an indissoluble union, and were the nup- 
tial bond not indissoluble it could not be compared 
to that divinely appointed relation. The Apostle 
portrays this mutual relationship in the following 
passage: " The husband is the head of the wife, as 
Christ is the head of the Church. He is the 
saviour of his body. Therefore as the Church is 
subject to Christ, so also let the wives be subject to 
their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your 
wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and deliv- 
ered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it, 
cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life, 
that He might present it to Himself a glorious 
Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such 
thing, but that it should be holy and without blem- 
ish." (Eph. v. 23-27.) 

4. Matrimony is also intended for the mutual 
support and assistance of the two contracting par- 

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The Sacrament of Matrimony. 273- 

ties. They marry young, and neither knows what the 
future has in store for him or her. But of one thing 
they may both be certain, that they will not always 
remain young and strong ; as years go on they will 
be subjected to the infirmities and ailments of old 
age, or their health may fail sooner ; 'husband or 
wife may, while still young, be overtaken by some 
disease or painful infirmity which may occasion a 
feeling of aversion to arise in the heart of his or her 
spouse or create impotency for the object of 
marriage. Under such circumstances the afflicted 
party becomes dependent on the other for aid, and 
opportunity is afforded for Christian charity to dis- 
play itself in all its self-sacrificing zeal. Anything 
short of this is no Christian marriage. For married 
people to separate by mutual consent on account of 
incompatibility of temperament would be the 
plainest violation of the command: "Ye husbands, 
dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giv- 
ing honor to them as to the co-heirs of the grace of 
life." (1 Pet. iii. 7.) 

5. But, as human passions are very strong and the 
Church is unable to prevent the laws of God from 
being transgressed, she permits married persons, 
under certain circumstances, to apply for a separation 
of bed and board. For this adultery is not neces- 
sary : it may be granted in the case of gross ill 
treatment on either side ; if either husband or wife 
should apostatize, and thereby the salvation of the 
partner of his or her life be imperilled ; or for some 

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274 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

other weighty cause. But this separation of bed 
and board does not, as has been said already, can- 
cel the marriage bond. It must be pronounced by 
the appointed ecclesiastical tribunal of the diocese 
if it is to be valid ; a decision in the civil court is 
not enough. 

Testimony to the Indissolubility of Marriage* 

The Apostle Paul declares : " To them that are 
married, not I, but the Lord commandeth, that the 
wife depart not from her husband : and if she de- 
part, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to 
her husband. And let not the husband put away 
his wife." (i Cor. vii. 10, n.) 

The Fathers of the Church have at all times de- 
clared marriage to be indissoluble. Tertullian says : 
" He alone who joined husband and wife together 
in wedlock can separate them ; and He will sever 
the bond, not by means of separation, for this He 
forbids and disallows, but by the hand of death." 

St. Jerome says : " The Apostle has thus cut 
away every plea, and has clearly declared that if a 
woman marries again while her husband is living 
she is an adulteress. A husband may be an adul- 
terer, he may be stained with every crime, and may 
have been left by his wife on account of his sins — 
yet he still is her husband, and so long as he lives 
she may not marry another." 

Origen says : " As a woman is an adulteress who 

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Matrimony in its Character of a Sacrament 275 

lives with another man during the lifetime of her 
husband even though she goes through the form 
of marriage with him, so a man who goes through 
the form of marriage with a divorced woman is not 
to be called her husband, but an adulterer." 

Thus, according to the express declaration of 
this ancient and venerable ecclesiastical writer, 
marriage contracted with those who are separated 
is not lawful wedlock, but a mere pretence of mar- 
riage, and consequently an adulterous intercourse. 

The decree of the Council of Trent on this point 
is as follows : " If any one saith that the Church 
has erred in that she taught, and doth teach, in ac- 
cordance with the evangelical and apostolical doc- 
trine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dis- 
solved on account of the adultery of one of the 
married parties ; and that both, or even the inno- 
cent one, who gave not occasion to the adultery, 
cannot contract another marriage during the life- 
time of the other ; and that he is guilty of adultery 
who, having put away the adulteress, shall take 
another wife, as also she, who, having put away the 
adulterer, shall take another husband, let him be 
anathema." (Sess. xxiv. can. 7.) 

Matrimony in its Character of a Sacrament* 

The Apostle Paul says of matrimony : " This is a 
great sacrament ; but I speak in Christ and in the 
Church." (Eph. v. 32.) 

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276 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

Matrimony is, therefore, a sacred and mystic 
contract, which Christ raised to be a sacrament in 
order that the matrimonial state, originally insti- 
tuted by God, but degraded through sin, might be 
restored to its primeval dignity. 

1. The Sacrament of Matrimony, like every other 
sacrament, confers on those who receive it, besides 
an increase of sanctifying grace, other special 
graces — the grace to preserve inviolate their con- 
jugal fidelity, to bring up their children in the fear 
of God, to bear patiently the trials of the married 
state, to live together in peace and concord, that 
they may mutually labor for their own sanctifica- 
tion and for that of one another. Let them know 
that as they join hands before the altar so they 
will have one day to appear before the throne of 
the immaculate Lamb. In order that they may do 
this without fear they are strengthened, encouraged, 
and aided by the grace conveyed in the Sacrament 
of Matrimony. 

2. The visible sign in this sacrament consists of 
the words of consent uttered by the bridegroom 
and the bride in presence of the rightful parish 
priest and two witnesses. To this the sacerdotal 
benediction should be added. Nuptials which are 
not concluded in presence of the duly appointed 
priest or some one authorized to take his place have 
no claim to validity in countries where the decrees 
of the Council of Trent on this subject are pro- 
mulgated. Wherefore all secret marriages, which 

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Preparation Before Entering the Married State. 277 

before the Council was held were illegal, but not 
invalid, are now invalid. 

3. From this proceeds, as a necessity, that, in 
those. same countries, civil marriages, i.e., marriages 
contracted only before the registrar, are no marriages 
in the sight of the Church. It belongs to the sec- 
ular authorities to prescribe the conditions and 
confirm the agreements which grant to the persons 
who are about to enter the married state the free 
exercise of their civil and political rights ; but the 
arrangement of these secular matters does not con- 
stitute marriage. The Holy See has spoken de- 
cisively on this point : Matrimony, being one of 
the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ, is 
a religious contract. Those persons who are mar- 
ried by the state and not by the Church live in a 
state of concubinage ; they cannot receive absolu- 
tion in the Sacrament of Penance unless they are 
prepared to exchange their sinful manner of life for 
wedlock blessed by the Church. If they will not 
do this they cannot receive absolution at their last 
hour and Christian burial will be denied them after 

Preparation Before Entering the Married 

He who is desirous of being married will do 
well to examine himself first of all to ascertain 
whether he has a vocation for the state of matri- 

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278 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

mony. It is impossible for one who has no 
vocation to fulfil the duties belonging to that 
state. Certain physical, mental, and moral quali- 
ties are indispensable ; otherwise he will be un- 
happy himself and make his wife and children 

1. Since physical and mental defects are very 
often hereditary, and, moreover, are apt, in the in- 
timate intercourse between husband and wife, to 
engender aversion and dislike, those who choose to 
enter the state of matrimony ought to be in the 
first place healthy in body and mind. If not it is 
a foregone conclusion that their marriage will be 
an unhappy one. 

2. As the duty of providing for the wife and 
children devolves upon the father as the head of 
the family, no one ought to marry who is not able 
to furnish means of subsistence for his family. It 
is a culpable act of imprudence for a man to marry 
who knows beforehand that the children who may 
be born to him will lack the necessaries of life, 
that they will perhaps grow up stunted and sickly 
and have a lifelong struggle with hunger, poverty, 
and want. The rich may become poor ; but he 
who has nothing and no prospect of being able 
to earn a sufficiency knows very well that he can- 
not keep a family. 

3. Since the well-being of human society de- 
pends mainly on the manner in which young people 
grow up, those whose duty it will be to train the 

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Preparation Before Entering the Married State. 279 

future members of society ought themselves to be 
well brought up. Consequently those are unfit to 
marry who are addicted to vices, who are given to 
bad habits or immoral practices. Children ought 
to be able to look up to their parents with rever- 
ence ; they ought not to learn from them what is 
evil. Let him who contemplates entering the mar- 
ried state strive first of all to bridle his passions, 
lay aside his evil habits, and become a model of 
good conduct. 

4. In making choice of a partner for life this 
world's goods ought not to be the one thing looked 
to, but the possession of estimable qualities of 
heart and mind, which is of paramount importance; 
above all to select one who takes the same view of 
things as one's self, who fears God and can per- 
form efficiently the duties of father or mother as 
the case may be. It is, of a truth, permissible, nay, 
advisable, for a man to attach some weight to the 
fact that his wife has money to help in the burden 
of the household expenses ; but temporal riches 
ought not to turn the scale, any more than beauty 
of person. Extravagance or folly will soon run 
through a considerable property ; whereas in the 
hands of a God-fearing, thrifty married couple a 
moderate income may, if the blessing of God rests 
upon it, increase year by year. " A golden ring in 
a swine's snout, a woman fair and foolish." (Prov. 
xi. 22.) " A diligent woman is a crown to her 
husband : and she that doth things worthy of con- 

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280 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

fusion is as rottenness in his bones/' (Prov. xii. 4.) 
" House and riches are given by parents : but a 
prudent wife is properly from the Lord." (Prov. 
xix. 14.) 

5. The best preparation for the married state is 
a chaste and virtuous life. Intimate relations with 
a person of the other sex ought to be avoided 
until a man is in a position to marry. A long en- 
gagement is a severe tax on the virtue of both par- 
ties. It is blameworthy if entered upon (a) without 
any real intention of marriage ; (d) without any 
immediate prospect of marriage ; (c) without knowl- 
edge or consent of the parents ; (d) without due 
regard to public decorum. 

6. When the time comes for the betrothed to 
plight their troth at the altar let them present 
themselves to the parish priest, in order that he 
may have the opportunity of ascertaining whether 
they are sufficiently instructed in the Christian 
faith, and whether any impediments to the marriage 
exist, and if so whether they can be removed by 
a dispensation. The banns of marriage must be 
published from the pulpit as the law requires, and 
if a civil contract must precede the religious cere- 
mony the latter must take place not later than the 
day after, in presence of the duly appointed parish 
priest and two witnesses who are of age. Mean- 
while it is advisable that the betrothed should not 
reside in the same house, and should avoid all in- 
tercourse that might give rise to scandal. 

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The Impediments to Marriage. 281 

7. Matrimony is a sacrament of the living and 
can only be received in a state of grace. Where- 
fore the Church exhorts the faithful before their 
marriage to confess their sins and devoutly receive 
holy communion. What is most to be commended, 
and most in keeping with the dignity of the sacra- 
ment, is for the bride and bridegroom to receive 
the nuptial benediction during or after Mass and 
to receive holy communion in the Mass. The 
wedding-day is a day of rejoicing, but the rejoicing 
should be of a seemly nature. The newly married 
may make merry with their relatives and their 
guests if they conduct themselves as becomes Chris- 
tians ; as the Apostle says : " Rejoice in the Lord 
always." (Phil. iv. 4.) Many Christians might be 
put to shame by the example of Tobias and Sara, 
who said to one another : " We are the children of 
saints, and we must not be joined together like 
heathens that know not God." (Tob. viii. 5.) 

The Impediments to Marriage* 

There are circumstances which render marriage 
unlawful and circumstances which render marriage 
invalid. The former are called prohibitive im- 
pediments, the latter diriment impediments. 

The prohibitive impediments — i.e., those which 
render marriage unlawful — are : 

(1) Previous engagement to another person un- 

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282 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

less the engagement has been lawfully annulled. 
(2) A simple vow of chastity ; that is to say, the 
vow to preserve one's virginity or to enter a relig- 
ious congregation. (3) Certain times of the year, 
for marriage cannot be solemnized during Advent 
or Lent. (4) The marriage of a Catholic to an unbe- 
liever, of which we shall speak further on. (5) The 
omission of the required proclamation or public an- 
nouncement of the marriage, from which, however, 
the bishop can grant a dispensation. 

The diriment impediments — i.e., those which ren- 
der marriage invalid — are : 

(1) Absence of consent — if, for instance, force 
is employed to compel any one against his or her 
will to submit to be married. (2) Error as to the 
person — e.g., if a man thinking to marry one per- 
son is united to another by mistake. If, however, 
the mistake is not with regard to the individual, 
but to some quality or property she was thought to 
possess, for instance, if a man thinking to marry a 
rich wife finds her to be penniless, this does not in 
any wise affect the validity of the marriage. (3) 
Absence of celibacy — no married person during the 
lifetime of the other can contract a second marriage, 
nor can members of a religious order marry, nor 
clerics who have received one of the three major 
orders (subdiaconate, diaconate, and priesthood). 
(4) The fact of either party being unbaptized. 
Marriages between Christians and Jews, pagans, or 

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Mixed Marriages. 


Turks are null. (5) Consanguinity and affinity to 
the fourth degree, or spiritual relationship which 
arises from sponsorship. There are, besides, other 
impediments, concerning which, if they exist, those 
who intend to marry should consult their confessor, 
on which account the betrothed should in the com- 
mencement of their engagement lay their circum- 
stances before their pastor, concealing nothing 
from him. He can then tell them from whom a 
dispensation must be obtained, whether from the 
Pope or from the bishop, after he has examined the 
reasons which render a dispensation necessary. If 
false reasons should be given and a dispensation 
obtained in an underhand way the marriage would 
not only be invalid, but sinful. 

Mixed Marriages* 

Marriages between Catholics and baptized per- 
sons of a different religious creed are termed mixed 
marriages. In the early ages of the Church such 
marriages were prohibited. They are only tolerated 
in the present day on condition of a promise being 
given that the children shall be brought up in the 
Catholic religion, and that the non-Catholic party 
shall not molest the Catholic in the exercise of his 
or her religion. On the other hand, the Catholic 
party is bound to use every exertion and employ all 

Digitized by 

284 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

permissible and attainable means to bring back the 
heretic to the fold of the Church. These means 
are kindly instruction, fervent prayer, and good 
example, so that the non-Catholic may see what 
the grace of God can do in a true and faithful 

The Apostle does, it is true, tell the Corinth 
ians : " If any brother have a wife that believeth 
not, and she consent to dwell with him, let him 
not put her away. And if the woman have a hus- 
band that believeth not, and he consent to dwell 
with her, let her not put away her husband. For 
the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the be- 
lieving wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified 
by the believing husband." (1 Cor. vii. 12-14.) 

But here the Apostle is speaking of marriages 
which were contracted before one of the parties 
embraced the Christian faith, and what the Apostle 
said then applies now when one of two persons 
who were married as non-Catholics is received into 
the Church. But when a Catholic and Protestant 
marry it is the Church's duty to demand the avoid- 
ance of anything that might be an encroachment 
upon her rights or might endanger the salvation of 
the Catholic. The following are the principal rea- 
sons why mixed marriages are condemned : 

1. One condition to happiness in wedded life is 
unquestionably harmony of opinion, and, as mar- 
riage is a religious union, unanimity of religious be- 
lief is indispensable. This unanimity cannot exist 

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Mixed Marriages. 


in a mixed marriage. A marriage of this nature 
cannot be what it ought to be, an image of the inti- 
mate union of Christ with the Church, because the 
fundamental condition is wanting, and that is faith. 
The Church cannot do otherwise than disapprove 
of such marriages. 

2. The chief and most sacred duty of parents is 
to bring their children to Christ, to train them in 
piety and in the fear of God. This cannot be done 
if the father and mother hold different religious 
tenets and the child does not know whom to fol- 
low. The result will be the same with him as with 
his parents — he will be indifferent to all religion. 

3. If when such a marriage is contracted the 
faith of the Catholic party is already somewhat 
weak it is much to be feared that the non-Catholic 
will make it difficult for the other to fulfil his relig- 
ious duties, will mock at many religious practices, 
will attack the doctrines of the Church in con- 
versation on religious subjects; and thus dissension 
and contention will ensue, or it will end in the 
Catholic party abandoning his or her religion. 

4. Non-Catholics do not regard the nuptial bond 
as indissoluble; they can be divorced without much 
difficulty, and are free to marry again, which the 
Catholic cannot do. Thus in mixed marriages the 
Catholic is at a great disadvantage in regard to his 
conjugal rights. 

In condemning mixed marriages and imposing 
the conditions given above, the Church only acts in 

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286 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

defence of her own rights and those of the faithful 
whom God has confided to her charge. She cannot 
be otherwise than solicitous for the eternal welfare of 
her children. The faithful on their side owe obedi- 
ence to the Church as their spiritual mother. And if, 
despite her disapproval, a Catholic desires to marry 
a Protestant he cannot do so without a dispensation, 
which must be procured from the bishop through 
the parish priest. Both contracting parties must 
previously give a promise in writing to comply con- 
scientiously with the conditions on which alone a 
dispensation will be granted. 

The Duties of the Married* 

Those who are joined together in holy matrimony 
are bound for their whole life long to live together 
in prosperity and adversity, in health and sickness, 
and to share each other's every joy and sorrow. 
That is no easy task, and it is not in vain that 
Christ has attached a sacramental grace to wedlock, 
for no one needs more strength and support than do 
married persons to discharge the duties their state 
requires of them. 

i. The married ought above all to live to- 
gether in love and fidelity and be "two in one 
flesh." They ought to aid one another in bearing 
the burdens of life, and mutually encourage one an- 
other in the practice of Christian virtues. " Bear ye 

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The Duties of the Married, 287 

one another's burdens," the Apostle says ; " and so 
you shall fulfil the law of Christ. " (Gal. vi. 2.) 
And the son of Sirach tells us : " A friend and com- 
panion meeting together in season, but above them 
both is a wife with her husband." (Ecclus. xl. 23.) 

2. Very carefully ought married persons to avoid 
every impropriety inconsistent with the sanctity of 
their state. For purity is as necessary in a married 
as in a single state. Conjugal fidelity ought not to 
be transgressed even in thought, and everything 
should be shunned which might awaken feelings of 
suspicion or distrust on either side. 

Adultery is not only a shameful sin, branded as 
such by the express command of God, but also most 
calamitous in its consequences. The adulterer be- 
comes an object of disgrace and infamy; he destroys 
the peace of the family, he renders it impossible to 
bring up the children well, he deeply wrongs his in- 
nocent spouse. The sin of adultery leads to lavish 
expenditure of property, the breaking up of the 
household, and to countless sins, sometimes even to 
the murder of a husband or wife. On this account 
Our Lord utters this warning against indulgence 
even in looks which may be occasion of sin : " Who- 
soever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, 
hath already committed adultery with her in his 
heart." (Matt. v. 28.) " He that is an adulterer, 
for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul; 
he gathereth to himself shame and dishonor." 
(Prov. vi. 32, 33.) " Marriage honorable in all, and 

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288 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

the bed undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers 
God will judge." (i Heb. xiii. 4.) 

3. The husband is the head of the family. He 
ought to exercise his authority with charity and 
gentleness. " Husbands, love your wives, as Christ 
also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for 
it. So also ought men to love their wives as their 
own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth him- 
self. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but 
nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the 
Church. Let every one of you in particular love 
his wife as himself." (Eph. v. 25, 28, 29, 33.) 

It is the special duty of the husband to provide 
for the maintenance of the family. " If any man 
have not care of his own, and specially of those of 
his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse 
than an infidel." (1 Tim. v. 8.) 

4. The wife ought to love her husband and obey 
him. This God commanded from the beginning 
when He said to the woman : " Thou shalt be 
under thy husband's power, and he shall have do- 
minion over thee." (Gen. iii. 16.) The Apostle 
also exhorts those to whom he writes : " Let wom- 
en be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord." 
(Eph. v. 22.) 

Wives are particularly admonished not to dispute 
or wrangle: " Let the woman learn in silence, with 
all subjection." (1 Tim. ii. n.) 

The woman's chief adornment ought not to con- 
sist in dress and finery, but in virtue and modesty. 

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"Ubis is a areat Sacrament, but 1 speak in Cbrist an& in tbe 
Cburcb."— fipbes. v. 32. 

Digitized by 


Reflection. — In the New Law matrimony is not a 
mere natural or civil contract, but a sacrament, a 
means of grace and salvation for those who are called 
to that state. Among Christians the union of husband 
and wife is a figure of the union of Christ with His 
Church, and is therefore sacred and holy. The tie of 
a valid marriage cannot be dissolved except by the 
death of one of the parties, for our divine Saviour says: 
44 What God hath joined together, let not man put asun- 
der." (Mark x. 9.) Marriage, being a sacrament, 
must be received in a state of grace ; it would be a 
horrid sacrilege to receive it in the state of sin. The 
sacrament of marriage is subject to the regulations of 
the Church. A Catholic cannot without grievous sin 
contract marriage without the presence of the priest 
The Church for very good reason detests and abhors 
mixed marriages, and does not permit them without 
serious cause and under certain necessary conditions. 

Practice. — If you are yet single and feel called to 
the state of matrimony, pray to God to direct you in 
your choice, and prepare yourself for it by a pure life. 
If already married, strive to fulfil your duty as a Catho- 
lic husband (wife) , bear patiently with the faults of your 
wife (husband), give a good example to your children, 
and bring them up from their infancy in the knowledge 
and practice of the true faith. 

Prayer. — O my God, enlighten and direct all who 
are called to the state of matrimony, and enable them 
worthily to receive this sacrament. Deign to bless 
all husbands and wives, that they may ever live in 
mutual love, concord, patience and fidelity, and bring 
up their children as good Catholics. O Mary, obtain 
for us all the grace to lead a good life and to die a holy 
death. Amen. 

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The Duties of the Married. 289 

The Apostle says : " Women also in decent apparel : 
adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not 
with plaited hair, or gold, or costly attire, but as it 
becometh women professing godliness, with good 
works." (1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.) " Whose adorning let 
it be the hidden man of the heart in the incorrup- 
tibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, which is rich 
in the sight of God. For after this manner here- 
tofore the holy women also, who trusted in God, 
adorned themselves, being in subjection to their 
own husbands." (1 Pet. iii. 3-5.) 

Nothing could be more admirable than the in- 
structions given by her parents to Sara, the wife of 
Tobias, on her leaving her father's house. They 
bade her behave respectfully to her father-in-law 
and mother-in-law, love her husband, rule the 
servants, superintend the household, and conduct 
herself in a manner that was beyond reproach. 

5. The first time a Christian wife goes out after 
childbirth let her repair to the Church to ask the 
priest's benediction. Formerly it was the general 
custom — and a beautiful custom, too — for the 
mother to bring her newly born infant with her and 
present it to the Lord, as Joseph and Mary did. 


A beautiful example of conjugal affection is afford- 
ed us by Elcana, the father of Samuel the prophet. 
The Lord had denied to him and his wife, whose 

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390 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

name was Anna, the blessing of children, and as often 
as Anna went up with her husband to Silo to offer 
sacrifice to the Lord she wept and did not eat. 
Then Elcana, her husband, said to her, " Anna, 
why weepest thou ? and why dost thou not eat ? 
and why dost thou afflict thy heart? Am I not 
better to thee, than ten children ? " The Lord re- 
warded this love and gentleness on his part and a 
son was born to them, Samuel, who was afterwards 
appointed by God the judge over Israel. 

Tobias and Sara are a model to all married peo* 
pie. When Sara was so extremely unfortunate aa 
to have several husbands whom she had success- 
ively espoused slain by an evil spirit she was able 
to say : tC Thou knowest, O Lord, that I never cov- 
eted a husband, and have kept my soul clean from 
all lust. Never have I joined myself with them 
that play, neither have I made myself partaker with 
them that walk in lightness. But a husband I con- 
sented to take, with Thy fear, not with my lust." 
(Tob. iii. 16-18.) And Tobias the younger prayed 
thus : il Lord, thou knowest that not for fleshly lust 
do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of 
posterity, in which Thy name may be blessed for 
ever and ever." (Tob. viii. 9.) 

Holy Scripture gives this testimony to the virtue 
of Zachary and Elizabeth : "They were both just 
before God, walking in all the commandments of 
the Lord without blame." (Luke i. 6.) 

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The Ceremonies of the Sacrament of Matrimony. 291 

The Ceremonies of the Sacrament of 

When the formalities of the marriage contract 
have been gone through, the banns published, and 
the betrothed have received the sacraments of 
Penance and of the Altar, let them betake them- 
selves to the Church, accompanied by two proper 
witnesses and by their relatives and friends. The 
bride and her attendant damsels, called the brides- 
maids, wear on their heads wreaths of flowers, be- 
tokening innocence. The priest first blesses the 
ring ; then he requires those present should they 
know of any impediment to the marriage to state 
it, in virtue of the obedience due to the Church. 
If no objection is made he asks the bridegroom if, 
after mature deliberation and of his own free will, 
he will take N. here present for his lawful wife. He 
next addresses the same question to the bride ; and 
both the one and the other express their consent by 
answering : I will. With these words the marriage 
is concluded. The bride and bridegroom then hold 
each other by the right hand and pledge their 
troth, after which the priest says, their right hands 
being joined : " I join you together in marriage ac- 
cording to the appointed rite of holy Church, in 
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost. Amen." He then gives the ring which 
has been blessed, to the bridegroom, who places 

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292 The Sacrament of Matrimony. 

it upon the fourth finger of the bride's left hand. 
The ring is a symbol of the fetters which she takes 
upon herself. She no longer belongs to herself, but 
to her spouse, and the ring is to serve as a continual 
reminder to her to preserve fidelity to her consort. 
If the bride has not been previously married the 
priest blesses the newly married couple before the 
conclusion of the Mass, saying : " May the God of 
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob 
be with you and Himself fulfil His blessing upon 
you, that you may see your children's children 
unto the third and fourth generation, and may 
afterwards have everlasting life without end, by 
the help of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." 

If the nuptial benediction takes place before the 
Mass this benediction of the newly married, who 
are kneeling before the altar, is given immediately 
after the lie, missa est, and before the ordinary 
blessing of the priest. 

Practical Application. 

1. " A good wife is a good portion, she shall be 
given in the portion of them that fear God to a man 
for his good deeds." (Ecclus. xxvi. 3.) Let those, 
then, who desire to marry marry in the fear of God, 
remembering that the evil enemy has power over 
those who shut out God from themselves and from 
their mind. (Tob. vi. 17.) The best guarantee 
of a happy marriage is an innocent and pure life 
before marriage. 

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The Ceremonies of the Sacrament of Matrimony. 293 

2. Above all it is a thing to be avoided for young 
people to make acquaintance and consort together 
and exchange promises of marriage a long time be- 
fore there is any prospect of their marrying, be- 
cause it cannot be known how circumstances or 
the persons themselves may change. This has been 
the ruin of many people's happiness. Many enter 
the marriage state with the guilt of sin upon their 
conscience, and not only defraud themselves of the 
sacramental grace which the Sacrament of Matri- 
mony confers, but commit a sacrilege by receiving 
it unworthily. Whence comes it that there are so 
many miserable marriages ? From this, that so bad 
a preparation is made beforehand and so godless 
a life led afterwards. 

3. No marriage ought to be contracted without 
the consent of the parents so long as the contract- 
ing parties are under their control. The first in- 
stance we know of in which this was done is that 
of Esau. (Gen. xxviii. 9.) But Esau was one 
whom God had rejected. Parents always have the 
best interests of their children at heart, and if it so 
happens that the child finds it quite impossible to 
comply with his parents' wishes let him not act 
upon his own responsibility, but take the advice of 
sensible persons, especially that of his confessor or 
director. The confessor and others who are quite 
unprejudiced can view the matter in so different a 
light to one whose eyes are blinded by love. 

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Ttbc Sacramental*, 

Besides the holy sacraments there are things 
which the Church blesses in order that by the 
pious use of them the Christian may obtain from 
God temporal benefits and spiritual health. Now 
as these things bear a certain resemblance to the 
sacraments, they are called sacramentals. Holy 
water, consecrated oil, salt, ashes, palms, tapers— in 
short, all things of that kind which are blessed by 
the Church — are sacramentals. 

i. A sacramental is, therefore, an outward sign to 
which the Church seeks to attach a supernatural 
grace, and which in view of this she blesses. It 
differs from a sacrament inasmuch as the sacra- 
mentals were not instituted by Jesus Christ ; nor is 
a special grace necessarily attached by divine ap- 
pointment to the outward sign, it only accompanies 
it at the prayers of the Church. By the prayer of 
the Church we mean a prayer which the priest 
offers in the name of the whole Church, conse- 
quently in the name of Jesus Christ also, who is 
the head of the Church. There can be no doubt 
that the prayer of the Church is at all times pleas- 
ing to God and efficacious in obtaining its object. 

Digitized by 

The Sacramentals. 


Yet since the Church cannot bestow the graces in 
question, but can only implore them, the granting 
of the prayer depends upon the wise will of God, 
and also upon the devotion and merits of those who 
employ the sacramentals. When Our Lord sent out 
the apostles He said to them : " When you come 
into a house, salute it, saying : Peace be to this 
house. And if that house be worthy, your peace 
shall come upon it ; but if it be not worthy, your 
peace shall return to you." (Matt. x. 12, 13.) 

2. The sacraments convey to the soul an increase 
of sanctifying grace and special graces effectual to 
salvation, whereas by means of the sacramentals 
only grace in general is conferred. The outward 
signs do not, however, merely indicate the grace 
conferred, but they are the channel of it. The 
benefits they procure for us are principally of a 
temporal nature— protection against the assaults of 
the evil enemy, succor in time of sickness, and 
such like various blessings. 

3. We experience the power of the Church's 
prayers on our behalf in her benedictions and con- 
secrations and in her exorcisms. To bless means 
to wish something good to another. Thus Isaac 
blessed Jacob, saying: " God give thee of the dew of 
heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, abundance 
of corn and wine." (Gen. xxvii. 28.) The patriarchs 
of the Old Testament were wont to bless their 
children in a similar manner when they felt their 
end approaching. The priests of the Old Testa- 

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The Sacratncntals. 

ment, too, gave their blessing to the people in 
the name of God ; to do so was one of the duties 
of their ministry, and a form of words was pre- 
scribed for their use. It was as follows : " The 
Lord bless thee and keep thee ; the Lord show 
His face to thee and have mercy upon thee ; 
the Lord turn His countenance to thee and give 
thee peace." (Numb. vi. 24-26.) To this invo- 
cation of the name of God the fulfilment of the 
desire expressed was promised. " They shall in- 
voke My name upon the children of Israel, and I 
will bless them." (Numb. vi. 27.) It stands to 
reason that the priests of the New Testament pos- 
sess the power to confer this benediction in a far 
higher degree, for they are eminently the repre- 
sentatives of Jesus Christ. 

4. By the medium of her priests the Church 
blesses persons as well as things, as Our Lord did. 
We read that He blessed little children, laying His 
hands on them. (Mark x. 16.) And when He 
fed the multitude in the desert with five loaves and 
two fishes He first looked up to heaven and then 
blessed those articles of food. (Luke ix. 16.) The 
like is done by the Church, for the priest prays in 
her name that God would vouchsafe to make all 
things conduce to our temporal and eternal wel- 

5. Consecration is a special kind of blessing. If 
any person or object is separated and set apart to 
be specially devoted to the service of God this is 

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The Sacramentals. 


called consecration or dedication, as distinct from 
benediction or blessing. Very often benediction 
accompanies consecration, or it is employed as a 
preparation for consecration. 

6. Various forms of benediction precede an ex- 
orcism or adjuration of the evil enemy. Through 
original sin we have been brought under the do- 
minion of the devil and are exposed to manifold 
temptations on his part : " Your adversary the 
devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom 
he may devour," (i Pet. v. 8.) 

Exorcism is a solemn adjuration or command 
with the view of obliging the devil to depart from 
some creature. Thus Our Lord commanded the 
devils to go forth by whom the unfortunate Gera- 
sens were possessed. He also delivered many 
others who were possessed, and expressly gave His 
apostles and disciples authority to cast out devils in 
His name. Priests make use of this power princi- 
pally before administering holy Baptism, and also 
when they have reason to believe that a sick per- 
son is possessed or that the malady is caused by 
demoniacal influences. Yet in this case priests are 
prohibited from exercising their powers of exorcism 
without previously reporting the matter to the 
bishop and obtaining his permission. 

Practical Application. 

Since it is the good pleasure of God to commu- 
nicate graces to us so abundantly by means of the 

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The Sacramentals, 

sacramentals, it would evince culpable indifference 
on our part were we not to make diligent use of 
them ; for the Christian is bound to employ every 
means of increasing the grace of God within him. 
Let us be deeply thankful for these spiritual benefits. 
Let us take heed never in any way to ridicule those 
who have recourse to the sacramentals and make 
use of objects that have been blessed ; for whoso 
despises the sacramentals despises the prayer of the 
Church, and despises the head of the Church, 
Jesus Christ. 

" Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord 
Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every 
spiritual blessing in heavenly places, in Christ" 
(Eph.i. 3 .) 

Consecrations and Benedictions* 

The Consecration of Individuals. 

It stands to reason that the consecration of the 
Pope is the first and foremost of consecrations, since 
he is the earthly head of the Church. It takes place 
in Rome, at the altar which stands over the tomb 
of the apostles and princes of the Church SS. 
Peter and Paul. The Pope elect is carried into the 
church seated on a throne. When he enters the 
master of ceremonies holds up before him a reed 
surmounted by a handful of flax, which being 
lighted flashes up and as quickly dies out, the 

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Consecrations and Benedictions. 299 

clerk meanwhile chanting the words : " Holy 
Father ! thus passeth away the glory of the 
world." This is done three times. In the Mass 
which is celebrated the Gospel is read both in 
Latin and in Greek, to signify that the Supreme 
Pontiff rules over all Christians throughout the 
world. The triple crown is placed on the head of 
the Pope elect with the words : " Receive the tiara 
adorned with three crowns, and know that thou 
art the father of princes and kings, the ruler of 
the world, and the vicar of Our Saviour Jesus 

Bishops and abbots also receive solemn conse- 
cration. The clothing of those who enter religious 
orders is accompanied by benedictions. Young 
women who desire to dedicate themselves to the 
service of God in the cloister have these questions 
addressed to them: " Dost thou promise to perse- 
vere in the observance of chastity? Dost thou 
desire to be consecrated to God and become the 
spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the 
most high God?" On an affirmative reply being 
given the ring and veil are delivered to the postu- 
lant. The ring indicates that the person thus con- 
secrated becomes the bride of Jesus Christ, the 
veil that she will lead a life of seclusion from the 
world in union with her divine Spouse. 

Catholic kings and emperors also are anointed at 
their coronation, to imply that they are the chief 
protectors of the Church, who defend the faith, 

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The Sacratnentals. 

administer justice, and protect the widow and 
orphan. Sword, crown, and sceptre are delivered 
to them as symbols of sovereign power, and in the 
coronation Mass the anointed monarch receives 
holy communion. 

Consecration of Places. 

i. Churches are above all to be consecrated, for 
not only are they destined for divine worship, but 
Our Lord Himself makes them His dwelling-place. 
Even under the Old Testament the Temple was 
solemnly dedicated ; Solomon kept the festival 
seven days, and all Israel with him, and he offered 
in sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 rams. (2 Paral. 
vii. 8, 5.) Very much the same was done when the 
second Temple was consecrated under Esdras (1 
Esdr. vi.), and also in the days of the Machabees. 
(1 Mach. iv.) The Christians could, of course, 
erect no churches until free exercise of their relig- 
ion was permitted them, and this was not done 
universally until the reign of Constantine the Great 
(312 a.d.). The ceremonial for the dedication of 
churches is of the greatest antiquity. 

The ground plan of the church ought to be in 
the form of a cross, and the altar ought to be placed 
at the east end, so that the faithful who worship there 
may look towards the Orient, whence the natural 
light of day rises upon us, which is an emblem of 

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Consecrations and Benedictions. 30 1 

the supernatural light, the Sun of justice, Jesus 
Christ. On the interior walls of the church twelve 
crosses must be painted, and before each one a 
sconce fixed to hold a taper; these crosses betoken 
the twelve apostles, by whom the light of the Gospel 
was shed abroad. The bishop and attendant clergy 
walk three times round the outside of the church, 
each time knocking with the pastoral staff at the 
door of the main entrance and demanding admit- 
tance; the door is not opened until the third time of 
knocking, when the procession enters the building. 
The invocation of the Holy Ghost then follows, and 
the bishop inscribes on the pavement of the church 
the letters of the alphabet in Latin and in Greek 
characters, to signify that the Gospel is to be 
preached throughout the whole world in every 
tongue. The altar is anointed with oil, and sprinkled 
with ashes, salt, wine, and holy water, symbolical of 
penance, wisdom, courage, and purity. In the altar, 
which receives a special consecration, some relics 
are deposited in a cavity, because in early times it 
was customary to say Mass on the tombs of the 
martyrs. This may have been done in accordance 
with the vision of St. John : " I saw under the altar 
the souls of them that were slain for the word of 
God and for the testimony which they held." 
(Apoc. vi. 9.) 

2. The churchyard and the graves are likewise 
consecrated. The churchyard is so called because 
as a rule it is situated round the church, not only to 

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The Sacramentals. 

enable the faithful to visit the graves frequently, 
but also to indicate that the faithful departed still 
belong to Christ's flock and that they too assemble 
unseen around the altar of sacrifice. And because 
we hope and pray that the souls of those who have 
fallen asleep in Christ may rest in peace, as their 
bodies repose after life's conflict, the graveyard is 
also called a cemetery or place of sleep. By the 
Germans the name of Gottesacker (God's acre) is 
also given to it, in reference to the resurrection of 
the dead. " The body is sown in corruption, it 
shall rise in incorruption." (i Cor. xv. 42.) 

On the day preceding that appointed for the con- 
secration of a churchyard or cemetery a crucifix is 
erected on the spot, together with a triangle in 
which three tapers are fixed, to be lighted at the 
time of the ceremony. It is Christ crucified who 
gives us new life by His death, and He is Himself 
the perpetual light which shall shine on the faith- 
ful departed. 

If at the time of an interment the cemetery 
has not already been consecrated the grave is 
blessed, prayers being recited over it and holy water 
sprinkled upon it. How sublime are the prayers 
which the priest pronounces when the body is borne 
to the grave: " Come to his assistance, ye saints of 
God; come forth to meet him, ye angels of the 
Lord, receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of 
the Most High. May Christ receive thee, who 
called thee; may the angels conduct thee to Abra^ 

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Consecrations and Benedictions. 303 

ham's bosom. Eternal rest give to him, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon him." 

The Blessing of Things. 

The Church blesses, furthermore, all articles ap- 
pertaining to divine worship before they are used for 
that purpose, such as chalices, patens, monstrances, 
vessels for the holy oils, the tabernacle, tapers, ban- 
ners, the sacerdotal vestments, the linen, etc. 
These articles are thus set apart for a special use. 
In like manner not only were Aaron and his sons 
anointed with oil by the Lord's command, but all 
the vessels to be employed in the service of the 
sanctuary, even to the brazen laver, with its foot. 
The ceremonial of blessing consists in the recital 
of prayers and sprinkling the object with holy 
water. The bishop reserves to himself the consecra- 
tion of the chalice and paten; they are anointed 
with chrism. 

The blessing of bells is a solemn rite, dating from 
the seventh century. In early times only the largest 
churches had bells: in fact it was quite an excep- 
tional thing to have them at all. We read in history 
that when Clothaire, king of France, was besieging 
the town of Orleans in the year 659 Bishop Lupus 
caused the bells of St. Stephen's Church to be 
loudly rung, and this sound caused such alarm in 
the enemy's ranks that they all decamped. When 
bells are blessed they are washed both inside and out, 

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The Sacramentals. 

and the officiating priest prays that wheresoever the 
sound of the bell is heard all hostile powers may be 
put to flight, and tempests, lightning, and hail de- 
part. The bell is anointed with chrism and the 
holy oils used for extreme unction, and a censer 
containing red-hot coals and incense placed beneath 
it. The church-bell is regarded to a certain extent 
as a companion and friend of man, which accom- 
panies him throughout his whole life from the font 
to the grave, and shares his joys and sorrows. 

The blessing of bells is sometimes called by the 
people christening of bells, probably on account of 
the cleansing and anointing that take place. This 
expression is not, however, known in the Church's 
parlance. And yet she allows bells to have spon- 
sors, like children at their Baptism. It is a very 
admirable custom to give each bell the name of 
some saint, both in order to distinguish one from 
another and also as a means of commending one's 
self to the protection of that saint. 

Holy water stands foremost among the things 
that are blessed by the Church for the use of the 
faithful. It is to be found in every church, and 
no Christian household ought to be without it. 
Water and salt are first exorcised, then blessed and 
mingled together, and the priest prays in the name 
of the Church that God would vouchsafe to sanc- 
tify them both, so that wherever the water is 
sprinkled the evil enemy may depart and the holy 
spirit of God enter in, and that it may be conducive 

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Consecrations and Benedictions. 305 

to the health of body and soul of all who use it 
In the churches it is a symbol of cleansing, to re- 
mind the faithful that they must assist with clean 
hearts at the holy sacrifice. 

There is a special ritual used on Holy Saturday 
and the eve of Pentecost for the blessing of the 
water to be used in Baptism, as also for the blessing 
of water on the Epiphany, when we commemorate 
the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, the ceremony 
by which He sanctified water as a means of grace 
and instituted the Sacrament of Baptism. The de- 
vout Catholic ought to sprinkle himself with holy 
water at least every morning and night, at the same 
time renewing his good resolution to serve God 
always with a pure mind and an upright intention. 

Besides the ceremonies of blessing already men- 
tioned there are: 

1. The blessing of candles on the Purification. 

2. The blessing of ashes on Ash Wednesday, 
when, at the commencement of Lent, ashes are put 
upon the heads of the faithful to admonish them to 
do penance and turn to God, and also as a re- 
minder that we are all subject to the law of death. 
While giving the ashes the priest says to each one: 
" Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and to 
dust thou wilt return." 

3. The blessing of palms, which takes place on 
Palm Sunday, is to remind us of Our Lord's tri- 
umphal entry into Jerusalem, and also that a time 
will come when we ought to appear before God 

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The Sacramentah. 

bearing the palm of victory. After the blessing 
the distribution of palms takes place, followed by a 
solemn procession. 

4. In some countries plants and flowers are 
blessed on the feast of Our Lady's assumption. 
In the Canticle of Canticles Mary is compared to 
the loveliest flowers. She is described as " the 
flower of the field and the lily of the valleys ; a 
garden enclosed, a garden whereof the aromatical 
spices flow." (Cant. ii. 1, 4, 12, 16.) The flowers 
which are blessed on the day of her glorious as- 
sumption into heaven denote the virtues of the 
Blessed Virgin, the sweet fragrance whereof rejoices 
the heart and stimulates us to their imitation. 

In many churches the throat is blessed on St. 
Blase's day. Tradition says that this holy bishop 
through his prayers delivered a boy in whose throat 
a fish-bone had lodged from death by suffocation. 
Hence his intercession is invoked in all diseases of 
the throat. The priest blesses two tapers, lights 
them, and holds them crosswise over the neck of 
the person to be blessed, saying : " May the Lord 
deliver thee from all affections of the throat and 
all other ailments." 

On St. Agatha's Day in some localities loaves of 
bread are carried into the Church and placed on a 
side altar to be blessed by the priest. 

5. A special ceremony, performed by the Pope 
only in the first and seventh year of his pontificate, 
is the blessing of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God> 

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Consecrations and Benedictions, 307 

Waxen images of a lamb are fashioned out of the 
paschal candle. The lamb is a symbol of the sac- 
rificial Victim, as St. John designates the Saviour : 
" The Lamb of God, Him who taketh away the 
sins of the world." (John i. 29.) The Agnus Dei is 
often worn round the neck. It serves as a re- 
minder to us to lead a life of innocence. 

6. Rosaries, crosses, medals, are also blessed for 
the faithful, and indulgences are attached to them. 
This can only be done by a priest who possesses the 
requisite powers, whereas every priest can bless ar- 
ticles of food, domestic animals, fields, houses, the 
marriage-bed, etc. These benedictions express the 
good wishes of the Church. Mention must be 
made of the prayers for fine weather, which are 
offered from the feast of the Finding of the 
Holy Cross (3d May) until the Exaltation of the 
Cross (14th September.) 

Hence it will be seen that the devout Catholic 
possesses in the sacramentals a sure weapon against 
the evil enemy and an inexhaustible source of 
temporal and spiritual blessings, of which he must 
prove himself worthy if he would avail himself of 

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Fifty complete stories, equal to a book selling at $1.25. 
Three complete novels, equal to three books selling at $1.25 each. 
1000 illustrations, including reproductions of celebrated paintings. 
Twenty articles on travel and adventure, equal to a book of 150 pages. 
Twenty articles on our country, etc., equal to a book of 150 pages. 
Twenty articles on painting, music, etc, equal to a book of 150 pages. 
Woman's Department. Games and amusements for the young. 
Current Events. Prize competitions, etc. 

Benziger's Magazine is recommended by 70 A rchbishops and Bishops of the U. S. 

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Girardey, C.SS.R. 321110. Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 

OF CHILDREN. By Very Rev. Ferreol Girardey, C.SS.R. 3 amo. 

Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 

Girardey, C.SS.R. 321110. Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 

By St. Alphonsus de Liguori. 321110. Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 
THE CHRISTIAN FATH ER. What He Should Be and What He Should 

Do. 32mo. Paper, |o. 25 ; cloth, $0.40. 
THE CHRISTIAN MOTHER. The Education of Her Children and Her 

Prayer. 321110. Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 
A SURE WAY TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE. For those Betrothed and 

for Married People. 32mo. Paper, $0.25 ; cloth, $0.40. 
CATHOLIC BELIEF. By Very Rev. Fa* di Bruno. i6mo. Paper, $0.25 ; 

cloth, $0.50. 

WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES. An Answer to Earnest Inquirers. 
By Rev. E. Drury. i6mo. Paper, $0.30 ; cloth, $0.60. 

SPIRITUAL PEPPER AND SALT, for Catholics and Non-Catholics. By 
Rt. Rev. W. Stang, D.D. i6mo. Paper, $0.30; cloth, $0.60. 

ASTICAL YEAR. By the AbW Durand. With illustrations. i6mo. 
Paper |o. 30; cloth, $0.60. 0 

A. Lambing. With illustrations. i6mo. Paper, $0.30 ; cloth, $o.6j. 

By Rev. L. A. Lambert and Rev. R. Brennan. With illustrations. i6mo. 
Paper, $0.30; cloth, $0.60. 

ioner's Little Rule Book. Bv Rev. A. L. A. Klauder. With illustrations. 
161110. Paper, $0.30; cloth, $0.60. 

GOSPELS. Illustrated Edition. With Preface by His Eminence Cardi- 
. nal Gibbons. 704 pages. 140 illustrations 8 vo, cloth, $1.00. 

LIVES OF THE SATNTS. With Reflections for Every Day. Numerous 
full-page illustrations, 400 pages. 8vo, cloth, $1.50. 

PICTORIAL LIVES OF THE SAINTS. With nearly 400 illustrations, 
600 pages. 8vo, cloth, $2.50. 

For sale by all Catholic booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt 0/ f>rice 
by the publishers, 


New York : Cincinnati: Chicago: 

36-38 Barclay Street. 343 Main Street. 211-213 Madison Street. 

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Date Loaned 



Library Buraau Cat. no. 1138 

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Jaru, 8. . 



The Library 
Union Theological Seminary 

Broadway at 120th Street 
New York 27, N. Y. 


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